Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs also called as non-prescription drugs are medicines that do not require prescription from healthcare professionals for selling it to consumers. Consumer can follow the instruction mentioned on label and these drugs are safe to use. These drugs are available at pharmacies, supermarkets, general stores, and gas stations across several countries. However, these drugs are solely authorized for dispense by pharmacists, after confirming age, identity, and patient’s knowledge regarding the product and its utility. Non-prescription drugs such as analgesics, dermatologics, and digestive medicines are used to treat minor health issues. OTC drugs are regulated and manufactured under OTC Monograph or New Drug Application (NDA) processes.
Increasing prevalence of digestion disorders, common flu, and cold is driving growth of the market
According to American Nutrition Association, 2016, around 70 million people suffer 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 non-prescription medicines. OTC drugs 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 OTC drugs market. According to Australian Health Direct, over 200 viruses present worldwide can cause cold and adults are susceptible to these viruses around 2-4 times annually. The same source also suggests that the cold and flu symptoms are usually mild to moderate and self-limiting, which is propelling demand for over-the-counter drugs, in turn fueling growth of the market.
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
On the basis of administration route, the global over-the-counter drugs market is segmented into:
On the basis of distribution channel, the global over-the-counter drugs market is segmented into:
- Hospital Pharmacies
- Retail Pharmacies
- Online Pharmacies
North America to hold the leading 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 holds a dominant position in the global over-the-counter drugs market, followed by Europe, owing to growing patient awareness regarding consumption of OTC drugs, leading to self-medication practices. According to Consumer Healthcare Protection Act 2015, an estimated 81% adults in the U.S. use OTC medicines as their first response to minor ailments. Moreover, the same data states that U.S. had an around 54,000 pharmacies in 2015 and over 750,000 retail outlets selling OTC drugs. Asia Pacific economies such as China and India are expected to witness rapid growth in OTC market over the forecast period due to increasing public awareness regarding the treatment of minor diseases as well as increasing number market players tapping into emerging markets of the region. For instance, Takeda Pharmaceuticals in March 2016, started overseas sales of OTC brand—Alinamin in Vietnam, India, Hong-Kong, and China.
Increasing awareness regarding self-medication to boost OTC drugs market growth
Increasing inclination of the populace towards self-medication for treatment of minor health conditions, low pricing of these drugs, convenience of direct purchase, as well as innovations and developments in the dosage forms of these drugs is fueling growth of the market. 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. However, increasing number of market players, high possibilities of addiction and substance abuse are major factors restraining growth of the market. Side-effects associated with consumption of wrong medications due to lack of awareness among the rural population in emerging economies is further restraining growth of the OTC drugs market.
Key players are focusing into strategic alliances 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.