CHPA Statement Reaffirming Commitment to the U.S. Two-Class System of Drugs

The following is a statement from the Consumer Healthcare Products Association in response to recent articles misrepresenting the Association’s support of the two-class system of drugs in the United States and opposition to a third class of drugs:

Washington, D.C. (May 27, 2003)—The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) strongly supports the two-class system of drug regulation employed in the United States. The two-class system—that of prescription drugs dispensed by healthcare professionals at roughly 55,000 pharmacies nationwide and nonprescription medicines available over-the-counter (OTC) at over 750,000 drugs stores, convenience stores, grocery stores, and mass market retailers—is a time-tested system that provides consumers with convenient, cost-effective, and safe treatment options.

CHPA’s opposition to a third class, or so-called transition class, of drugs in the United States is a long-standing position. While pharmacists and other healthcare professionals may play a valuable role in assisting consumers to self-medicate responsibly, the widespread and convenient availability of proven safe and effective OTC medicines is a key to the way Americans practice self-medication. Convenience and competitive pricing make the U.S. system of drug marketing unique and a model to much of the world. In fact, the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) studied the issue and concluded in 1995 that “the evidence that does exist tends to undermine the contention that major benefits are being obtained in countries with a pharmacist or pharmacy only class.” Furthermore, the report states that “the evidence indicates that at this time major improvements in nonprescription drug use are unlikely to result from restricting the sale of some OTCs to pharmacies or by pharmacists.”

Editor's Note: A fact sheet, entitled Third Class of Drugs, is available.

Contacts: Mimi Pappas and Virginia Cox, 202.429.9260


CHPA is the 122-year-old trade association representing U.S. manufacturers and distributors of over-the-counter medicines and nutritional supplement products.