Over-the-counter drugs, also known as non-prescription drugs, refer to medicines that can be bought without a prescription. These drugs are safe and effective when a consumer follows the directions on the label or as provided by a physician. Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are primarily used to treat conditions that do not require direct consultation of a doctor. OTC drugs are safe and well tolerated. These provide affordable treatment and also help to decrease the workload of physicians. The OTC drugs helps to build a diverse product portfolio for health care business of pharmaceutical companies also it helps to extend product range for consumer brands of consumer goods companies. OTC drugs are easily available in pharmacies. Hence, some of these drugs have restrictions in the U.S. This restricted class of drugs include emergency contraception, pseudoephedrine, and some Schedule V controlled drugs. These products are considered OTC; however, these are not directly kept on pharmacy counters and must be dispensed by a pharmacist after confirming age, identity, and patient knowledge regarding usage of product.
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The global over-the-counter drugs market has been segmented based on product type and geography. Based on product type, the market has been categorized into analgesics & pain relievers, cough, cold and flu products, dermatological products, vitamin supplements, mineral supplements, gastrointestinal products, sleep aids, weight loss products, smoking cession aids, ophthalmic products, and other products. Analgesics & pain relives, cough, cold and flu products, dermatological products, vitamin supplements, and mineral supplements are the major market segment. Among all major segments analgesics & pain relives hold the maximum market share. Weight loss products and smoking cession aids are likely to witness high growth in the next few years due to increase in awareness about healthy lifestyle.
Geographically, the over-the-counter drugs market has been segmented into five major regions: North America (U.S. and Canada), Europe (Germany, France, U.K., etc.), Asia Pacific (Australia, China, Japan, India, etc.), Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. North America is the leading market for OTC drugs in terms of revenue, followed by Europe. Asia Pacific and Latin America are emerging markets, which are expected to witness strong growth during the forecast period from 2016 to 2014. The strong growth is anticipated due to increase in healthcare industries and increase in the investment of government to develop health care industries. The over-the-counter drugs market in countries such as China, India, and Brazil are projected to expand at high growth rate during the forecast period due to increase in awareness among the population about usage of over-the-counter drugs to treat minor health issues.
Other factors that drive the over-the-counter drugs market are changes in cultural attitudes regarding self-medications required for minor health problems, convenience of direct purchase, affordability of over-the-counter drugs, high adoption and acceptance in developing markets, savings enabled by the usage of over the counter drugs, and innovations and developments in drugs. The market is also experiencing certain restraints such as stiff competition among the existing players, high possibilities of substance abuse and addiction, complications and severity involved in taking wrong medications due to misdiagnosis or incorrect self-diagnosis, and lack of awareness among the rural population in developing and underdeveloped economies.
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Major players operating in the OTC market include Alkem Laboratories Limited, Bayer AG, Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, Cipla, Inc., GlaxoSmithKline Plc., Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Limited, Johnson & Johnson Services, Inc., Merck KGaA, Novartis AG, Pfizer, Inc., Sanofi, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.