Regarded as one of the oldest business verticals of healthcare and medical devices industry, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs market has been consistently demonstrating a lucrative growth trend over the past few years. The massive surge in the number of citizens, who are increasingly opting self-medication over visiting a doctor to treat common ailments, has been the prominent factor which has vigorously impelled the growth prospects of the global OTC drugs industry. This phenomenon has been complemented with the fact that many preeminent regulatory agencies across various nations have been increasingly enlisting a host of prescription based medicines to be sold as OTC drugs by pharmacies. Furthermore, in response to rising patent expiration rates and the decisions being taken by regulatory bodies’, many distinguished pharmaceutical firms across the globe have been switching their manufacturing capacities to seamlessly cater the burgeoning OTC drugs market, which commanded an astonishing remuneration portfolio of over USD 114 billion in the year 2016.
U.S. OTC Drugs Market size, By Product, 2013-2024 (USD Billion)
While making an attempt to comprehend the massive popularity of OTC drugs, one is compelled to affirm the arguments put forth by OTC drugs industry analysts. The leading cause for wide-scale acceptance of OTC drugs across the globe, as per industry experts, is the fact that these medicines owing to their easy-accessibility and affordability, have assisted a sizeable population to lower their out-of-pocket expenditure while availing healthcare services to treat a few lifestyle-related diseases such as weight loss and insomnia. Apparently, in the backdrop of cost-saving coupled with rising product demand is likely to propel the global OTC drugs market over the estimated timeframe.
Elaborating further upon the regional growth prospects of OTC drugs industry, the Asia Pacific region is slated to contribute substantially toward the rapid expansion of this business space. As per reliable estimates, OTC drugs market in China has emerged as the second largest in the world after the U.S. Given that the OTC drugs industry is highly concentrated in only a handful of major economies, China and Japan, along with the U.S., accounted for close to 50 percent of the total market share in the year 2016. Concurrently, the swiftly expanding geriatric populace and easy availability of OTC drugs in community pharmacies apparently are regarded as the major factors that would further impel Japan and China OTC drugs industry in the forthcoming time span.
Apart from China, India, over the recent years, has been emerging as one of the foremost growth terrains for OTC drugs market size expansion. Factors such as growing healthcare awareness, increased healthcare spending, and steadily accentuating geriatric population who are prone to acquire ailments such as arthritis, asthma, and diabetes have majorly contributed toward expanding India’s OTC drugs market space. As per authentic sources, the Indian Government’s pharmaceutical and medical devices industry regulator, Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO), has reportedly been contemplating to include fresh provisions in the nation’s Drugs and Cosmetics Act,1940, in a bid to create a new category of OTC drugs. Following up on its resolve and to expedite the process, the regulator had advised the Drug Consultative Committee (DCC), a prominent government advisory agency chaired by the Drug Controller General of India, to constitute a study group to oversee the modalities of the procedure and shortlist the medicines that can be brought under the aegis of OTC. As per news reports, the study group has apparently proposed to introduce a new category of OTC drugs including antipyretic (for fever), anti-allergic, anti-emetic (for nausea and vomiting), muscle relaxants, antacids, decongestants, external preparations for skin and hormonal contraceptives, and anti-inflammatory medicines to be dispensed through pharmacies without a doctor’s prescription. Apparently, post-approval and after the final notification of the proposal published by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the nation’s OTC drugs market would undoubtedly witness a tectonic shift and would further stimulate rapid penetration of these medicines in India, claim OTC drugs industry experts.
While bearing in mind the aforementioned statements which indicate an impressive growth trajectory of the global and regional OTC drugs market in the ensuing years, this business sphere has been partially marred by stringent guidelines relegated by regulatory agencies to confine some drugs to the prescription category, as these medicines could be used for substance abuse. However, the rising demand from customers to lower the constraints on medicines for chronic diseases and the increased awareness pertaining the appropriate usage of OTC drugs would continue to spur the growth of OTC drugs industry. The global OTC drugs market, according to a report collated by Global Market Insights, Inc., is estimated to register a CAGR of 5% over the next seven years.