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Over-the-counter Drugs Market and Factors Behind its Growing Landscape – Industry Analysis by Top Vendors, Size, Growth Factors and Forecast to 2026

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs also called as nonprescription drugs refer to medicines that one can buy without prescription. These drugs are safe and effective when they are used as per the instructions labeled on the medicine. OTC drugs are available at supermarket, pharmacies, general stores, and gas stations in several countries. However, these drugs are authorized only after confirmation of age, identity, and patient’s knowledge to pharmacists. Digestive medicines, paracetamol, dermatologics, and analgesics are some of the OTC drugs sold.

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Growing prevalence of digestion disorders, common flu, and cold is driving growth of the market

According to American Nutrition Association, in 2016, around 70 million people suffered from some form of digestion disorder such as indigestion, acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, and constipation daily. Patients suffering from these conditions are reported to use OTC drugs. Nonprescription drugs are widely used to treat symptoms of cold and flu worldwide. Increasing prevalence of viral infections causing cold and flu is creating a favorable environment for growth of global over-the-counter drugs market. According to Australian Health Direct, over 200 viruses present worldwide can cause cold and adults are vulnerable to these viruses around 2-4 times annually. According to the same source, the cold and flu symptoms are usually mild to moderate and self-limiting, which is boosting the demand for over-the-counter drugs, in turn driving growth of the market.

Global Over-The-Counter Drugs Market Taxonomy

On the basis of product type, the global over-the-counter drugs market is segmented into:

  • Analgesics and Pain Relievers
  • Cough, Cold and Flu Products
  • Dermatological Products
  • Vitamin & Mineral Supplements
  • Gastrointestinal Products
  • Sleeping Aids
  • Smoking Cessation Aids
  • Ophthalmic Products
  • Others

On the basis of administration route, the global over-the-counter drugs market is segmented into:

  • Oral
    • Solids
    • Liquids
  • Topical
  • Others

On the basis of distribution channel, the global over-the-counter drugs market is segmented into:

  • Hospital Pharmacies
  • Retail Pharmacies
  • Online Pharmacies
  • Others

North America to hold the dominant position in the global over-the-counter drugs market, owing to well established healthcare structure

On the basis of geography, the global over-the-counter drugs market is segmented into North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa. North America accounts for the largest market share in the global over-the-counter drugs market, followed by Europe. This is owing to rising patient awareness regarding consumption of OTC drugs, which has led to self-medication practices. According to Consumer Healthcare Protection Act 2015, around 81% adults in the U.S. use OTC medicines for minor illnesses. Moreover, according to the same source, the U.S. had an around 54,000 pharmacies in 2015 and over 750,000 retail outlets selling OTC drugs. Emerging economies from Asia Pacific such as China and India are expected to witness significant growth in global over-the-counter drugs market over the forecast period. This is owing to increasing public awareness regarding the treatment of minor diseases as well as increasing number of market companies tapping into emerging markets of the region. For instance, in March 2016, Takeda Pharmaceuticals started overseas sales of OTC brand Alinamin in Vietnam, India, Hong-Kong, and China.

Growing awareness regarding self-medication to boost global over-the-counter drugs market growth

Rising preference of common public towards self-medication for treatment of minor illnesses, low pricing of OTC drugs, convenience of direct purchase, coupled with new innovations and developments in the dosage forms of these drugs are driving growth of the market. However, incidence of allergies from OTC drugs is expected to hinder the market growth in the near future. For instance, according to Consumer Healthcare Products Association, in the U.S, number of allergy sufferers using OTC medication increased from 66% in 2009 to 75% in 2015. Moreover, high possibilities of addiction and substance abuse are major factors restraining growth of the market. Furthermore, lack of awareness is causing side-effects from these medications, which is expected to restrain the market growth.

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Key players in the market are involved in strategic collaborations and partnerships with companies in distant geographies to increase visibility of product. For instance, in January 2018, Nuvo Pharmaceuticals, Inc. acquired ex-U.S. product and existing royalty streams for ‘Resultz’, an OTC treatment for head lice from Piedmont Pharmaceuticals LLC. Key players operating in the global over-the-counter drugs market include Alkem Laboratories Limited, GlaxoSmithKline Plc., Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd., Cipla Ltd., Johnson and Johnson Inc., Pfizer, Inc., Novartis AG, Merck KGaA, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.

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Last Updated: 22-Jul-2020