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U.S. Over the Counter Drugs Market Size, Share & COVID-19 Impact Analysis, By Product Type (Analgesics, Cold & Cough Remedies, Digestives & Intestinal Remedies, Skin Treatment, Vitamins & Minerals, and Others), By Distribution Channel (Drug Stores & Retail Pharmacies, Hospital Pharmacies, and Online Pharmacies), and Country Forecast, 2023-2030

Last Updated: April 29, 2024 | Format: PDF | Report ID: FBI107911



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The U.S. over the counter drugs market size was worth USD 17.05 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 6.0% during the forecast period.

Over the Counter (OTC) drugs are medicinal products that consumers can purchase from pharmacies, supermarkets, retail stores, and online shops without a prescription. OTC drugs are proven to be safe and effective treatments approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other health authorities worldwide. These medicines are used for the treatment of conditions, such as common cold, pain, allergies, and other minor ailments. Growing demand for self-medication and increasing approvals of drugs are expected to drive the U.S. over the counter drugs market growth in the future.

  • For instance, in July 2020, Alcon, a global leader in eye care, announced the FDA approval of Pataday, an eye drops for allergies for over the counter sales in the U.S.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the market was negative in 2020. The market witnessed a notable drop in sales for cold & flu products, skin treatment products, and digestives & intestinal remedies. The adoption of hygiene measures and social distancing norms led to a sharp decline in the incidence of flu, which also reduced the sales of cough, cold, and flu treatment products.


New Acquisitions to Boost Market Development

Prominent players in the U.S. market are focusing on acquisitions to expand their business in OTC drugs and provide high-quality and affordable medicines to patients.

  • For instance, in June 2022, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd. acquired certain over the counter drugs from Wockhardt in the U.S. to expand its business portfolio and provide patients with high-quality medicines.

Such strategic initiatives will enhance the market forecast.


Growing Trend of Self-Medication to Augment Market Growth

Self-medication with over the counter drugs is becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. For instance, according to data published by the U.S. Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), in December 2020, 81% of adults used these drugs to treat minor illnesses.

Moreover, comparatively higher price of prescription drugs as compared to that of over the counter drugs is expected to increase the demand for OTC medicines.


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Stringent Regulatory Policies May Hamper Market Growth 

In the U.S., pharmacies (offline and online) are licensed at the state level, not the federal level, to distribute OTC medicines. Thus, there are minor differences in regulatory laws between various states in the country. Online pharmacies operate with certain restrictions, such as they need a valid prescription from a licensed healthcare professional before selling drugs. Such stringent regulatory laws might limit the sales of OTC drugs through the fast growing online channels.

Around 54,000 pharmacies and over 750,000 retail outlets in the U.S. sell over the counter products.


By Product Type Analysis

On the basis of product type, the market is classified into analgesics, digestives & intestinal remedies, cold & cough remedies, vitamins & minerals, skin treatment, and others.

In 2022, the cold & cough remedies segment held a larger over the counter drugs market share due to the growing incidence of cough, cold, and flu in the country. For instance, cough, cold, and flu are the most common disorders in the U.S. than any other country, as per data published by the American Lung Association.

By Distribution Channel Analysis

The market is segmented into online pharmacies, hospital pharmacies, and drug stores & retail pharmacies, based on distribution channel.

In 2022, the drug store & retail pharmacies segment witnessed significant growth due to the rising number of community pharmacies delivering OTC drugs. Furthermore, surging demand for quality medicines is projected to drive the growth of this segment in the coming years.

  • For instance, in May 2023, Cabinet Health planned to launch 700 retail pharmacies across the U.S. to meet the surging demand for quality medicines.


The market is highly fragmented with many small and large companies in terms of its competitive landscape. Johnson & Johnson Services Inc., Sanofi S.A, Boehringer Ingelheim International GmbH, Bayer AG, Novartis AG, Pfizer, and GlaxoSmithKline Plc hold a significant U.S. over the counter drugs market share.

These prominent players in the market are focusing on new product launches, mergers, and acquisitions to strengthen their market presence. For instance, in June 2021, Bayer AG announced the U.S. FDA approval for Astepro Allergy as an over the counter product to treat nasal congestion.

Other key players in the market include Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd., and Perrigo Company plc.


  • Johnson & Johnson Services Inc. (U.S.)

  • Bayer AG (Germany)

  • Novartis AG (Switzerland)

  • Sanofi S.A (France)

  • Pfizer (U.S.)

  • GlaxoSmithKline Plc (U.K.)

  • Boehringer Ingelheim International GmbH (Germany)

  • Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC (U.K.)

  • Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd. (Japan)

  • Perrigo Company plc (Ireland)


  • December 2022 – Sonoma Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Crown Laboratories, Inc. announced an exclusive partnership to launch Microcyn technology-based anti-itch over the counter drugs

  • October 2020 Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd. announced the launch of Famotidine, a generic product for treating acidity in the U.S.

  • August 2019 GlaxoSmithKline plc announced that it had completed its transaction with Pfizer to combine their consumer healthcare businesses into a world-leading joint venture.


An Infographic Representation of U.S. Over the Counter Drugs Market

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The U.S. market research report provides a detailed analysis of the market. It focuses on product launches, key industry developments, such as mergers, partnerships, & acquisitions, competitive landscape, and impact of COVID-19 on the market. Besides this, the report also offers insights into the market trends and highlights key industry developments. In addition to the aforementioned factors, it encompasses several factors that have contributed to the growth of the market in recent years.

Report Scope & Segmentation



Study Period


Base Year


Estimated Year


Forecast Period


Historical Period


Growth Rate

CAGR of 6.0% from 2023 to 2030


Value (USD Billion)


By Product Type

  • Analgesics

  • Cold & Cough Remedies

  • Digestives & Intestinal Remedies

  • Skin Treatment

  • Vitamins & Minerals

  • Others

By Distribution Channel

  • Drug Stores & Retail Pharmacies

  • Hospital Pharmacies

  • Online Pharmacies

Frequently Asked Questions

Fortune Business Insights says that the U.S. market was worth USD 17.05 billion in 2022.

The market is expected to exhibit a CAGR of 6% during the forecast period of 2023-2030.

By product type, cold & cough remedies segment will account for a considerable share of the market.

Johnson & Johnson Services Inc., Bayer AG, Novartis AG, and Sanofi S.A are the top players in the market.

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