Global Over-the-Counter Drugs Market

Global Over-the-Counter drug market was valued at USD 141.6 billion in 2018, expected to grow with a CAGR of 7.6% over the forecast period of 2019-2025.

Infinium Global Research Analysts

Global Over-the-Counter Drugs Market: Consumer Behavior Analysis by Countries, Buying Pattern Analysis, Demographics, Trends Analysis, Survey Findings and Results, Leading Companies and their Market Strategies

  • Published : May, 2020

  • Rep Id : OTCDM1552020

  • No. of Pages : 185

Infinium Global Research and Consulting Solutions has published a comprehensive research study based on a survey conducted to analyze the buying patterns, consumer behavior and impact of pricing on buying decisions. The report also provides insights into the marketing strategies and steps were taken by the companies to retain their market position in the local as well as the global market. The study also provides insights into the factors affecting the buying decisions, consumer preferences, and the demographic factors promoting the growth of the products of the global over-the-counter drug market.


The global pharmaceutical industry is valued well above USD 1 trillion by 2019. The growing prevalence of diseases and an increase in the elderly population across the world has propelled the industry for the past few decades. Over-the-counter drugs are one of the segments in the pharmaceutical industry that has registered healthy growth over the past few years. While buying over-the-counter drugs, the patients do not require a prescription from a physician or doctor. Unlike prescription drugs, OTC drugs are easy to access and widely available. Moreover, OTC drugs are used to treat common ailments including cold, cough, allergic reactions, acidity, and others.


Growing Incidences of Contagious Diseases Augment the Growth of the Global Over-The-Counter Drugs Market

According to Infinium Global Research and Consulting Solutions, the global over-the-counter drug market was valued at USD 141.6 billion in 2018 and it is expected to grow with a CAGR of 7.6% over the forecast period of 2019-2025. The key players in the OTC drugs market are leveraging the brand equity of the major products during their patent period to improve sales and revenue. This, in turn, is majorly driving the global over-the-counter drugs market. Moreover, the growing trend of self-medication among the population is also contributing to the growing demand for OTC drugs. The patients continue to buy a particular medicine following an initial prescription from the doctor. In addition, factors such as increasing globalization, shrinking new product pipeline, increasing cost of new drug discovery, stringent safety rules of FDA, and entry of new players in the market are further augmenting the growth of the global over-the-counter drugs market.


The survey conducted by Infinium Global Research and Consulting Solutions found that majority of people across the world take advice from the pharmacist before buying an OTC medication. The relation between the local pharmacists and the consumers or patients plays an important role in the higher trust of the consumer on pharmacists. The frequent visits to the local pharmacy stores lead to higher interaction with the pharmacists. This, in turn, improves the relationship between consumers and pharmacists, which ultimately impacts the decision making of the consumers. Moreover, the pharmacists are easy to access than the professional physicians or doctors. If a patient wants to consult a doctor regarding a common health issue, he or she has to get an appointment first, and sometimes doctors could charge fees for their counseling or advice. Thus, people tend to take advice from pharmacists rather than doctors regarding common health conditions and their OTC treatment. 

Figure 1. Influence on Buying Decision of Over-the-Counter Drugs in the US

Influence on Buying Decision of Over-the-Counter Drugs in the US

Source: Infinium Global Research Analysis


The United States, China, and Germany among Top Markets for Over-The-Counter Drugs

According to the findings in the report, the United States of America and China along with countries in Europe are the best markets for over-the-counter drugs. Europe and North America together make nearly 60% of the total sales of OTC drugs in the world. The US is the leading country in terms of sales in the global over-the-counter drug market followed by China and Germany. The increasing trend of self-medication and rising need to cut healthcare costs are the major drivers for the sale of OTC drugs in western countries. Moreover, the higher geriatric population and availability of numerous products in the community pharmacies are the major factors contributing to the growth of Chinese OTC drugs market. On the flip side, the sale of over-the-counter drugs in developing countries such as India is anticipated to grow rapidly. Factors including improving economic and healthcare conditions and higher prevalence of common ailments are majorly influencing the sale of over-the-counter drugs in developing countries.


Figure 2. Top Countries in the Global Over-the-Counter Drug Market in 2019 (Revenue % Share)


Source: Infinium Global Research Analysis

North America Generated the Highest Revenue from Over-The-Counter Drugs

In terms of geography, North America generated the highest revenue in the global OTC drugs market. The growing trend of self-medication among the population in the region drives the growth of the over-the-counter drugs market in North America. Patients purchase OTC drugs from a nearby retailer for any visible mild symptoms without visiting a medical institution. Moreover, favorable reimbursement policies support the growth of the OTC drug market in the North American region. Several insurance policies available in the US offer some coverage for OTC drugs. Moreover, the Asia Pacific region is projected to grow with the fastest rate owing to the increasing number of approvals given for several prescription drugs to be sold as OTC drugs. For instance, in Japan, the antipyretic analgesic Loxonin S and Alesion, treatment for allergic rhinitis were approved for OTC sales in 2010.


Research Methodology

Primary Research

Our primary research involves extensive interviews and analysis of the opinions provided by the primary respondents. The primary research starts with identifying and approaching the primary respondents, the primary respondents are approached through

·         Key Opinion Leaders associated with Infinium Global Research

·         Internal and External subject matter experts

·         Professionals and participants from LinkedIn, Hoovers, Factiva, and Bloggers

·         Our primary research respondents typically include

·         Executives working with leading companies in the market under review

·         Product/brand/marketing managers

·         CXO level executives

·         Regional/zonal/ country managers

·         Vice President level executives.


Methods of Primary Research

·         Computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI)

·         Computer-assisted personal interview (CAPI)

·         Computer-assisted web interview (CAWI)

·         Questionnaires/Surveys

Secondary Research

Secondary research involves extensive exploring through the secondary sources of information available in both the public domain and paid sources. At Infinium Global Research, each research study is based on over 500 hours of secondary research accompanied by primary research. The information obtained through the secondary sources is validated through the crosscheck on various data sources. The secondary sources of the data typically include

·         Company reports and publications

·         Government/institutional publications

·         Trade and associations’ journals

·    Databases such as WTO (World Trade Organization), OECD (The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), Hoovers, Factiva, and the World Bank, among others.

·         Websites and publications by research agencies

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