OTC Market Grows Alongside Consumer Preferences

OTC Guide2024 OTC Guide

Patients, Consumers, and Caregivers Are Increasingly Interested in Self-Determination and Convenience.


Consumer preferences are trending toward self-care, often with assistance from the internet. Additionally, for nontraditional OTC products, social media drives growth. Convenience and value for the dollar seem to gain preference over medical provider visits with unknown price tags, insurance quagmires, and high deductibles.1 To the tune of roughly $120 per person per year, and across a variety of purchasers’ educational training, health literacy, and prior experience, hundreds of millions of Americans access OTC products each year.2

Pharmacy, Over The Counter, OTC | Image Credit: Gorodenkoff - adobe.stock.com

Image Credit: Gorodenkoff - adobe.stock.com


With an estimated US market now eclipsing $40 billion and a 4-year growth rate anticipated to be more than 3.5%, OTC products now make up roughly 10% of postrebate spend on all pharmaceutical products. Nutraceuticals are poised to grow rapidly alongside health and beauty products that cater to the OTC consumer who has a self-perceived condition but does not need or care about FDA clearance for marketing and shelf placement.3 Despite OTC products’ being a fraction of the total cost of pharmaceuticals, the use of these high-value products is superior to that of prescription drugs, with consumers averaging 26 visits per year to purchase OTC products—more than 8 times the number of visits to prescribers.4


Despite many other outlets for purchase of OTC products, pharmacies remain the preferred location for purchase, perhaps because of the combination of convenience and ability to access health care professionals for advice, if necessary. Additionally, the roughly 54,000 pharmacies in the US tend to have a greater breadth of selection and availability of products than nonpharmacy retail outlets. Online retailers, arguably with the ability to provide the widest available product selection thanks to, metaphorically, unlimited shelf space, are anticipated to make up roughly one-third of all OTC sales this year. Online retailers are continuing to attempt to close the gap on convenience, offering same-day delivery for household staples like paper towels, groceries, and, yes, OTC products.2

About The Author

Troy Trygstad, PharmD, PhD, MBA, is executive director of CPESN USA, a clinically integrated network of more than 3500 participating pharmacies. He received his PharmD and MBA degrees from Drake University and a PhD in pharmaceutical outcomes and policy from the University of North Carolina. He recently served on the board of directors for the Pharmacy Quality Alliance and the American Pharmacists Association Foundation.


OTC products remain an important part of the pharmacy business and care delivery model. Remaining the preferred site of care means maintaining both the consumer relationship and the patient-consumer relationship. Even though patient-consumers may not seek advice every time they seek an OTC product, they will often have at least 1 time per year when they seek input, keeping them drawn to the pharmacy as the place to receive unassisted self-care. Furthermore, gathering OTC product use as part of a patient’s medication list and use profile not only is important for better patient care across OTC and prescription products but can also increase affinity to the pharmacy for the entire range of pharmaceuticals.

We hope you enjoy the 2024 OTC Guide.


1. OTC Drugs & Dietary Supplements Market Report 2024-2034. Research and Markets; 2023. Accessed April 25, 2024. https://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/5806185/otc-drugs-and-dietary-supplements-market-report

2. OTC pharmaceuticals – United States. Statista. Accessed April 25, 2024. https://www.statista.com/outlook/hmo/otc-pharmaceuticals/united-states

3, Bansal B. Unveiling Americans’ attitudes toward over-the-counter drugs. YouGov. February 12, 2024. Accessed April 25, 2024. https://business.yougov.com/content/48623-unveiling-americans-attitudes-towards-over-the-counter-drugs

4. OTC sales statistics. Consumer Healthcare Products Association. Accessed April 25, 2024. https://www.chpa.org/about-consumer-healthcare/research-data/otc-sales-statistics

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