• Statistics on OTC Use

    For 2019 OTC Value research findings, infographics, video, and other materials, visit http://www.overthecountervalue.org

    Accessibility. Affordability. Trust. Empowerment. These four attributes epitomize the value over-the-counter (OTC) medicines provide consumers and our nation’s healthcare system. The following statistics share the full breadth of statistics surrounding OTC medicine use.


    • As more prescription allergy medicines have switched to OTC, there has been a clear shift toward these more convenient and affordable options. The number of allergy sufferers who use OTCs has gone up from 66 percent in 2009 to 75 percent in 2015.
    • There are a total of 2.9 billion retail trips annually to purchase OTC products. (source: IRI, 2015)
    • On average, U.S. households spend about $338 per year on OTC products. (source: IRI, 2015)
    • OTC medicines provide ACCESS 24/7 to conveniently available healthcare options for busy families and caregivers.
    • Nearly seven in 10 parents have given their child an OTC medicine late at night to help treat a sudden medical symptom.
    • Research shows that 81 percent of adults use OTC medicines as a first response to minor ailments.
    • The availability of OTC medicinesoff the shelf, without a prescriptionprovides symptomatic relief for an estimated 60 million people who otherwise would not seek treatment.
    • Without affordable and accessible OTCs, underserved populations would depend more heavily on the highest cost medical care for minor ailments.
      • One in four Medicaid patients and one in 10 uninsured individuals would seek treatment in an Emergency Department as their first recourse for treatment.
    • U.S. consumers make 26 trips a year to purchase OTC products. They only visit doctors, on average, three times a year.
    • While there are approximately 54,000 pharmacies in the United States, there are more than 750,000 retail outlets that sell OTC products.
    • View related infographics about ACCESS.



    • OTC medicines provide AFFORDABLE treatment options for both consumers and the U.S. healthcare system.
    • The availability of OTC medicines creates significant value for the U.S. healthcare system: $146 billion in annual savings relative to alternatives.
      • $94.8 billion in clinical cost savings (avoided doctor's office visits and diagnostic testing); and
      • $51.6 billion in drug cost savings (lower priced OTCs versus higher priced prescription medicines).
    • By keeping the American workforce healthy and at work, OTC medicines offer $34 billion in potential productivity benefits from avoided doctor's office visits and time not having to be away from work for medical appointments.
    • Consumers and taxpayers could save $5.2 billion annually if half of the unnecessary visits to primary care physicians were avoided by more self-care, including greater use of OTC medicines.
    • 86 percent of U.S. adults believe responsible OTC medicine use helps lower healthcare costs for people like them.
    • For every dollar spent on OTC medicines, the U.S. healthcare system saves more than 7 dollars.
    • View related infographics about AFFORDABILITY.



    • OTC medicines EMPOWER individuals and families to meet their everyday healthcare needs.
    • 96 percent of U.S. adults believe OTC medicines make it easy for individuals to care for minor medical ailments.
    • 93 percent of U.S. adults prefer to treat their minor ailments with OTC medicines before seeking professional care.
    • 85 percent of U.S. parents prefer to treat their children's minor ailments with an OTC medicine before seeking professional care.
    • 61 million consumers have avoided missing work, school, or other scheduled appointments due to illness because they had access to OTC cough medicines to alleviate their symptoms (based on census data).
    • 70-90 percent of all illness episodes are addressed with self-treatment.
    • View related infographics about EMPOWERMENT.

    Empowerment - Physicians and Consumers Agree


    • OTC medicines are a TRUSTED first-line of defense for healthcare providers and consumers alike.
    • For a range of illnesses, 8 in 10 consumers use OTC medicines to relieve their symptoms without having to see a healthcare professional.
    • 92 percent of physicians believe OTC medicines are effective, and 91 percent believe these medicines are safe.
    • 87 percent of physicians believe OTC medicines are an important part of overall healthcare.
    • 89 percent of consumers believe OTC medicines are an important part of their overall family healthcare.
    • Consumers depend on OTC cough medicines as a first-response to relieve cough symptoms for themselves and their children:
      • Two-thirds (66 percent) of surveyed adults and 70 percent of surveyed parents rely on OTC cough medicines to treat their own and their children's symptoms.
    • View related infographics about TRUST