ROCKVILLE, Md., Jan. 30, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Global over-the-counter (OTC) drug markets, significantly influenced by trends in the United States, Japan, China, and Germany, reached $80.2 billion in 2017, according to Kalorama Information.  Historically, patients had depended only on healthcare professionals to diagnose a condition and prescribe a prescription drug for treatment.  Over time, however, patients have become more involved in healthcare issues and now have taken some medical treatment into their own hands.  This has provided an opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to invest in research and development of over-the-counter drugs.  The healthcare market research firm’s recent report, Global Over-the-Counter (OTC) Drug Markets, examines the market opportunities for the drugs included in OTC segments, such as pain relievers, cough and cold remedies, sleeping aids, antifungals, and other products approved for use as self-medication products. 

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«The largest innovation in this market is in distribution channels,» said Bruce Carlson, Publisher of Kalorama Information.  «OTC drugs have traditionally been sold to consumers by convenience and grocery stores.  However, new technology has allowed a new range of outlets including online sales and catalogs, contributing to market growth.»

The global OTC drug market is highly fragmented by region.  This is largely due to differences in economic conditions, perception of self-medication, education, access to medical advice and products, demographics, product availability, and incidence of diseases and medical conditions.

In the United States, over-the-counter, non-legend, and non-prescription are all adjectives describing drugs that an individual may purchase without a prescription. By definition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found them to be safe for use without medical supervision.

Among global markets, China has steadily climbed in market share over the years. This is largely attributed to a growing interest in self-medication, access to treatments, and improving economic conditions.

The state of the economy, lifestyles, cultures, and the condition of medical care all contribute to the percent of people that seek to self-medicate. People are highly influenced by the cost of healthcare and will purchase OTC products in order to save money.

Another aspect of the self medication process is general health knowledge. This includes knowing where to go to ask questions or find information. Many people that seek to self medicate can go to their doctor or pharmacist in order to become more comfortable with dosages, side effects, and other common questions. As people become more comfortable with taking OTC medicines to treat common ailments, they usually continue the trend and pass information to family and friends.

Products in over-the-counter drug markets can be divided into five general segments:

  • Central nervous system agents, which include analgesics such as Tylenol, anti-inflammatories, and other therapies;
  • Dermatological agents, which include products such as Lamisil, Lotrimin, Abreva, Monistat, Nizoral and Neosporin;
  • Gastrointestinal agents , which include products such as Gaviscon, Dulcolax, Zantac, Tums, and Enterogermina;
  • Respiratory agents , which include products such as Claritin, Sudafed, Mucinex, Zyrtec, Allegra OTC, Tylenol Cold, Nyquil, Benadryl, and several others; and
  • Other therapeutic classes, which include smoking cessation products, urinary incontinence, and weight loss remedies.

The respiratory agent market is one of the largest OTC markets in terms of revenues.  The products in this market include oral tablets, capsules, syrups, sprays, lozenges and some other select delivery options. 

Global Over-the-Counter (OTC) Drug Markets discusses the world and regional OTC markets, including information on the following: world OTC drug market revenues: 2017 to 2023; top twenty OTC drug markets, country market share (%), 2017 (United States, Japan, China, Germany, France, India, Brazil, Russia, United Kingdom, Australia, Mexico, Canada, Italy, Spain, Poland, Turkey, Argentina, Venezuela, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, rest of world); and world OTC drug market revenues, markets by product segment, 2017 to 2023 (central nervous system, dermatological, gastrointestinal, respiratory, other, total). The coverage of regional OTC markets in the report goes to the country level in North America, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and Middle East and Africa.

The report includes treatments that are considered non-prescription drugs by advanced regulatory bodies such as the FDA.  It does not include products considered cosmetic, dietary, nutritional, homeopathic, vitamins, etc. 

The consumer healthcare market involves a range of large and small competitors.  Although hundreds of companies compete in global over-the-counter drug markets, a handful of companies secure leading positions. Global Over-the-Counter (OTC) Drug Markets can be found at:

About Kalorama Information

Kalorama Information, a division of, supplies the latest in independent medical market research in diagnostics, biotech, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and healthcare; as well as a full range of custom research services. Reports can be purchased through Kalorama’s website and are also available on and

We routinely assist the media with healthcare topics. Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and our blog on our company website.  

Press Contact:
Bruce Carlson
212 807 2262
[email protected]

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SOURCE Kalorama Information