Global Over-The-Counter Drug Industry
The global market for over-the-counter (OTC) drugs is expected to surpass $70 billion by 2015, reports Visiongain. According to estimates from the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, retail sales of OTC medicines in the US in 2010 were worth $17 billion, unchanged from the preceding year, and showing an increase over more than $3 billion over a ten-year period.
OTC medicines are drugs for which no prescription is necessary. They are sold in pharmacies or other retail outlets and are used in the prevention and treatment of relatively minor ailments such as headaches and heartburn. OTC drugs are not necessarily dispensed by professionals with medical knowledge, though they can have side effects or interfere with other medicines. Restricted OTC substances are generally sold in outlets employing a registered pharmacist.
OTC medicines are the first port of call for physicians and patients alike in the treatment of minor ailments, with close to 90% of medical care providers recommending patients self-treat minor conditions and the vast majority of patients taking this option. OTC upper respiratory infection medications represent savings of more than $4.5 billion a year for the US healthcare system, while OTC medications to treat heartburn mean savings of close to $760 million annually, or almost $175 per person, reports the Consumer Healthcare Products Association.