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The global over the counter drugs market size was valued at USD 46.65 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach USD 73.78 billion by 2030, exhibiting a CAGR of 5.8% during 2023-2030. OTC or over the counter drugs are pharmaceutical products that are considered safe to buy without the requirement of a prescription from a medical professional. These products are available in hospital pharmacies, medical stores, and sometimes even grocery shops, and are sold legally without any prescription. OTC medicines are used to treat some common symptoms, which include the common cold, body pain, allergies and flu, heartburn, acne, and other basic health problems.
One of the key factors contributing to the market growth during the forecast period is the increasing use of self-medication. Furthermore, the switch from prescription drugs (Rx) to OTC, citing lower costs, and rising product launches for OTC drugs to boost immunity are driving market growth.
Additionally, the availability and cost-effectiveness of OTC products are driving the growth of the market. For instance, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) publication, it was reported that in the U.S. every year, over the counter drugs account for approximately USD 100.0 billion in savings. The above-mentioned factors are anticipated to augment market growth for over the counter drugs during the forecast period.
Vitamins & Minerals Segment in the Market Witnessed an Increased Demand amid the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic had caused disruption in the import and export of healthcare products globally. However, some of the key players, such as Johnson & Johnson Services Inc., Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC, and others, reported growth in revenue for their OTC or consumer health segment in 2020.
The impact of COVID-19 varied for different OTC products. For instance, the pandemic had raised awareness about the importance of self-care and accelerated the growth of categories such as vitamins & minerals or nutritional supplements. At the same time, the growing precautions and hygiene measures resulted in a drop in sales for cough and cold products reported by most manufacturing companies. Also, skin treatment products and digestive & intestinal remedies experienced a decline in sales. Analgesics are pain-relieving products that were in high demand during the pandemic.
The most common OTC drugs during the pandemic were antipyretics, antihistamines, cough suppressants, and vitamins. However, the market witnessed a decline and slow growth in 2020 and 2021 respectively. In 2022, the market for over the counter drugs was poised for steady growth and is projected to grow at a significant CAGR over the forecast period.
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Increasing Shift from Rx to OTC and Growth in Private Label OTC Products are Vital Trends
One of the prominent trends in the market is the shift of manufacturers from prescription drugs to OTC. Many manufacturing companies are switching their products from Rx to OTC. For instance, Bayer AG states in their 2019 annual report that, as part of its strategy, the company will change some of its prescriptive products suitable for self-care to OTC. This is anticipated to lead to a higher availability of these drugs for various disease conditions in emerging and developed countries.
Other trends in the market include the increasing number of private-label OTC products. The rise in online sales of the OTC products and tie-ups between private label manufacturers and e-commerce companies are developing new trends in the market. For instance, In September 2019, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd. announced the launch of an OTC Omeprazole Delayed-Release tablet in the U.S. market. These upcoming new trends will diversify market growth during the forecast period.
Strong Focus of Key Players in the Development and Launch of New OTC Products to Boost Market Growth
There are a large number of companies operating in this market, which include Johnson & Johnson Services Inc., Bayer AG, Novartis AG, Sanofi S.A., Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd., Pfizer, and many more. These key industry players are involved in R&D to develop and market new OTC drugs for various health conditions.
Such an increase in the number of product launches in the OTC product category will enhance the over the counter drugs market growth.
Accessibility and Affordability of OTC Products to Surge Market Growth
One of the critical factors that are expected to grow the market during the forecast period is accessibility, affordability, and the presence of a large number of retail stores offering OTC products. In developed and emerging countries, the increasing investment by the private sector to improve the supply chain through retail stores and other distribution outlets is leading to market growth. According to the data published by NCBI, in 2020, countries such as the U.S., Japan, Germany, and the U.K. contribute maximally to OTC sales globally.
Additionally, the increasing approvals from regulatory bodies for switching prescription drugs to OTC drugs are fuelling market growth. As the majority of prescription allergy medicines have changed to OTC, there has been a clear shift toward these more convenient and affordable options. For instance, according to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), in 2022, numerous prescription allergy medicines have changed to OTC, and there has been a shift toward these drugs owing to their lower costs.
Wrong Medications due to Incorrect Self-diagnosis and Side Effects of OTC Drugs May Hinder Market Growth
Some limiting factors that are expected to restrain the global over the counter drugs market growth in the forecast period are incorrect self-diagnosis leading to the consumption of the wrong medicines. Many OTC cough and cold products have led to medication errors and adverse effects on the patient’s body. Additionally, drug abuse and drug addiction practices also pull down the market growth. Cough medicines, diarrhea medicines, and pain relief medicines are some of the common OTC medicines that are used for drug-abuse. According to the Addiction Center and a study published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in 2020, in the U.S., around 1.6 million young people between the ages of 12 and 25 have misused OTC medications (cold and cough medication). Furthermore, the use of traditional medicines also acts as a substitute or alternative for this market.
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Cold & Cough Remedies Segment to Dominate Due to Increasing Prevalence of Common Colds and Coughs
On the basis of product type, the market can be segmented into analgesics, cold & cough remedies, digestives & intestinal remedies, skin treatment, vitamins & minerals, and others.
The cold & cough remedies segment is anticipated to dominate the market owing to the increasing occurrence of common colds and coughs among the population due to seasonal variation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cold and cough are the most common conditions in children below the age of 10 years and in geriatric populations above 65 years, which is leading to an increasing demand for therapeutic products.
Analgesics accounted for the second-largest market share in 2022. This is primarily due to the increasing geriatric population, the surging demand for pain relief drugs, and the launch of new pain-relieving OTC products in the market. For instance, in September 2020, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd. announced the launch of OTC Diclofenac Sodium topical gel in the U.S. market.
Followed by analgesics, the vitamins & minerals segment is projected to be the third-largest market. The high demand from sports athletes and working professionals for energy products and weight management supplements is driving segmental growth. According to a survey conducted by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) in 2019, it was found that vitamins & minerals are the most commonly consumed supplement category, and around 76.0% of Americans consume these products to improve their health.
The digestives & intestinal remedies, skin treatment, and others segments are growing at a steady rate. The rising skin problems, such as acne, sunburn, severe allergic skin reactions, and skin infections due to fungi or bacteria, would surge the segmental growth. The others segment includes sleeping aids, weight loss/Diet, and OTC oral care products.
Drug Stores & Retail Pharmacies Segment to Dominate Owing to Rising Patient Preference
Based on distribution channel, the market is segmented into drug stores & retail pharmacies, hospital pharmacies, and online pharmacies. The drug stores & retail pharmacies segment is projected to account for the largest market share during the forecast period owing to the increasing number of retail pharmacies offering OTC products and the rising patient preference for stores & retail pharmacies for these products. The hospital pharmacies segment accounts for the second-largest market share owing to increasing access to OTC drugs and the availability of different products.
Online pharmacies would grow at a lucrative CAGR owing to the internet penetration in the emerging market and the discounts offered by online pharmacies.
North America Over The Counter Drugs Market Size, 2022 (USD Billion)
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On the basis of region, the global market can be segmented into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East & Africa.
By region, North America dominated the global market share in 2022. The market size in this region stood at USD 18.46 billion in 2022. The dominance of the region is attributed to the increasing preference for OTC products compared to prescription products.
Europe is expected to be the second-largest market in the forecast period owing to the high adoption of self-medication and the presence of a large number of OTC drug manufacturing companies in this region. Also, the rising awareness among the population about OTC products is driving market growth in this region.
Asia Pacific market is anticipated to be the fastest-growing market, showcasing the highest CAGR during the forecast period due to the shift in consumer attitude toward self-medication, a rise in the geriatric population, the rapid shift from Rx to OTC, and the affordability of OTC medicines. In India, 76.0% of the adult population preferred OTC pharmaceutical products over prescribed medicines. The increasing preference for OTC products is enhancing market growth. Also, the presence of pharmaceutical companies such as Cipla Inc., GlaxoSmithKline plc, The Himalaya Drug Company, Procter & Gamble, and TajPharma, with their strong product portfolios and robust distributional channels are contributing to market over the counter drugs growth.
Latin America and the Middle East & Africa accounted for a comparatively lower market share in 2022. In Brazil, despite a variety of national regulations, antimicrobials are used without prescription very frequently. The increasing preference for over-the-counter medications citing lower costs and the rising number of players entering these lucrative industries are poised to fuel the market's growth during the forecast period.
Diversified Insurance Plans Offered by United HealthCare Services, Inc. and Centene Corporation to Support Their Dominance
The competitive landscape of the global industry has some of the dominant key players, such as Johnson and Johnson, Bayer AG, Novartis AG, Sanofi S.A., Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline Plc, and Boehringer Ingelheim International GmbH, that account for the majority of the market share. These key players are implementing different strategic initiatives to improve their shares in the market for over the counter drugs.
Johnson and Johnson is one of the largest healthcare companies that operates at a global level. The company offers OTC products under its consumer health segment. As a key strategy, it markets its products to the general public and them on online portals and retail outlets globally. Similarly, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline Plc., the leading international pharmaceutical companies, entered into a partnership in August 2019 to develop a joint venture. The aim of this agreement was to create a leading consumer healthcare business and be a market leader in the global market.
Additionally, in April 2020, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited announced that it would continue with the divestiture strategy with the sale of selected products in the European region. Furthermore, in July 2020, Novartis AG launched a not-for-profit portfolio of medicines for the symptomatic treatment of COVID-19. The portfolio includes 15 generic and OTC medicines from the Sandoz division to fulfill the unmet needs of patients with COVID-19 symptoms.
Other prominent players in the global market include Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd., Amway Corp., Procter & Gamble Co., Herbalife Ltd., Nature’s Bounty Co., and others.
An Infographic Representation of Over The Counter (OTC) Drugs Market
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The report covers a detailed global over the counter drugs market analysis and overview. It focuses on key aspects such as the competitive landscape, product type, distribution channel, and region. Besides this, it offers insights into market drivers, market trends, market dynamics, COVID-19 impact on the market, and other key insights. In addition to the factors mentioned above, the report encompasses several factors that have contributed to the growth of the market over recent years.
CAGR of 5.8% from 2023-2030
Value (USD billion)
By Product Type, By Distribution Channel, and By Region
By Product Type
By Distribution Channel
Fortune Business Insights says that the global market stood at USD 46.65 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach USD 73.78 billion by 2030.
In 2022, the North America market stood at USD 18.46 billion.
The market is expected to exhibit a CAGR of 5.8% during the forecast period (2023-2030).
The cold & cough remedies segment is set to lead the market by product type.
The increasing shift from prescription (Rx) to OTC, the surging launch of new OTC products, and rising preference for these products due to their affordability are some of the major factors driving the markets growth.
Johnson & Johnson Services Inc., Bayer AG, Novartis AG, and Sanofi S.A are the major players in the global market.
North America region dominated the market in 2022.
The growing awareness about this condition especially among aging population coupled with innovative product launches are expected to drive the adoption of these products.
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