Every year, Pharmacy Times®publishes the results of an OTC survey. Thanks to pharmacists for responding again in large numbers. This year, we had a full slate of recommendations for the most common OTC products. We continue to partner with Today and U.S. News & World Report to release the findings across 35 categories of products. This annual effort has become an opportunity to remind the public of the pharmacist’s role in helping patients navigate the self-care marketplace. Most importantly, it prompts consumers and patients to remember that a pharmacist is available in nearly every community in the United States as a walk-up service for advice and counsel. No other health profession can claim that. 

Patients and Consumers Continue to Value Pharmacists’ Opinion
Pharmacists remain one of the most trusted professions, with 62% of respondents in the latest professions survey rating pharmacists as having “high” or “very high” ethical and honesty standards, with 77% trusting in their own pharmacists.Pharmacists’ opinions matter. Patients are not required to seek pharmacists out when considering self-care, because OTC medications are available in hotel pantries, truck stops, and vending machines. Yet most patients with questions still ask for pharmacists’ help. Pharmacists should continue to embrace this trust and offer a listening ear. 

The OTC Industry Continues to Grow (in Relevance, Role in Health, and Size)
OTC medications generated $34.2 billion in sales last year, having more than doubled in the past decade and nearly eclipsing 6 billion units. This follows 2 supporting trends: the rise in popularity of convenience care in our busy lives aversuss scheduling appointments ahead of time and the increasing availability of more novel products across increasingly diverse categories of medical conditions.Ninety-three percent of US adults prefer to treat their minor ailments with OTC medicines before seeking professional care, and 92% of physicians think that OTC medicines are effective, while 92% think that they are also safe. 

We hope you enjoy our 2018 OTC Guide

Troy Trygstad, PharmD, PhD, MBA, is vice president of pharmacy programs for Community Care of North Carolina, which works collaboratively with more than 1800 medical practices to serve more than 1.6 million Medicaid, Medicare, commercially insured, and uninsured patients. He received his PharmD and MBA degrees from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and a PhD in pharmaceutical outcomes and policy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also serves on the board of directors for the American Pharmacists Association Foundation and the Pharmacy Quality Alliance.
 
References
1. Brenan M. Nurses keep healthy lead as most honest, ethical profession. Gallup website.news.gallup.com/poll/224639/nurses-keep-healthy-lead-honest-ethical-profession.aspx. Published December 26, 2017. Accessed May 29, 2018.
2. Consumer Healthcare Products Association. OTC retail sales 1964-2017. CHPA website. chpa.org/OTCRetailSales.aspx. Accessed May 29, 2018.