Over-the-counter Drugs Market, by Product Type (Analgesics and Pain Relievers, Cough, Cold and Flu Products, Dermatological Products, Vitamin & Mineral Supplements, Gastrointestinal Products, Sleeping Aids, Smoking Cessation Aids, Ophthalmic Products, and Others), by Route of Administration (Oral, Topical, and Others), by Distribution Channel (Hospital Pharmacies, Retail Pharmacies, Online Pharmacies, and Others), and by Geography (North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa) - Global Industry Insights, Trends, Outlook, and Opportunity Analysis, 2017-2025

Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, also referred to as non-prescription drugs, are medicines that do not require prescription from healthcare professionals to be eligible for direct sales to consumers. These drugs are considered to be safe if the consumer follows the instructions mentioned on the label or as directed by the physician. Non-prescription drugs such as analgesics, dermatologics, and digestive medicines can be used to treat minor health issues that do not require involvement of a prescriber. OTC drugs are regulated and manufactured under OTC Monograph or New Drug Application (NDA) processes. 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.

Increasing number of minor diseases capable of being treated by over-the-counter medicines is boosting OTC drugs market growth

According to American Nutrition Association, 2016, each day, around 70 million people suffer from some form of digestive issue such as indigestion, acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, and constipation. Sufferers of these conditions are most often observed using non-prescription medicines to relieve these syndromes. OTC drugs are most widely used to treat symptoms of cold and flu, worldwide. Increasing prevalence of viral infections causing cold and flu symptoms, is in turn, creating a favorable environment for growth of OTC drugs market. According to Australian Health Direct, over 200 viruses prevalent worldwide, can cause cold and adults are susceptible to these viruses around 2-4 times, every year. The same source also suggests that the cold and flu symptoms are usually mild to moderate and self-limiting, in turn, propelling demand for 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 route of administration, 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 leading position in the global over-the-counter drugs market, owing to the growing healthcare sector

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. This dominance is attributed to the growing patient awareness and consumerization of OTC drugs, leading to self-medication practices. According to Consumer Healthcare Protection Act 2015, approximately 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 approximately 54,000 pharmacies in 2015 and over 750,000 retail outlets selling OTC drugs across the country.  On the other hand, countries in Asia Pacific such as China and India are expected to witness rapid growth 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 its OTC brand—Alinamin in Vietnam, India, Hong-Kong, and China and stated the countries to be their future revenue generating geographies.

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 the market for OTC drugs. According to Consumer Healthcare Products Association, number of allergy sufferers using OTC medication increased from 66% in 2009 to 75% in 2015, in the U.S. However, the market growth is restricted due to tough competition among the key players, high possibilities of addiction and substance abuse. Side-effects associated with consumption of wrong medications due to lack of awareness among the rural population in emerging economies is also expected to restrain the OTC drugs market growth.

Strategic partnerships and distribution rights alliance among market players practiced for establishment of the company’s presence in the global over-the-counter drugs market

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. The key players as well as other emerging regional players are focusing on expansion of distribution rights of the OTC medicines to nearby geographies, so as to popularize the brand of the company and generate more revenue. The companies are also entering into strategic alliances and partnerships with companies in distant geographies to market their products with the help of established companies in the area. 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.

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