Facts on Over-the-Counter Medications

Over-the-counter medications

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What’s in your medicine cabinet? Whether you’re single and living solo or married with a few kids, there are probably a few over-the-counter drugs in your bathroom or pantry for a variety of different ailments ranging from sinus congestion to muscle aches.

Over-the-counter drugs are quite popular, and sales continue to soar in the United States for all kinds of different products. The Consumer HealthCare Products Association reports on the statistics for OTC drug use among U.S. consumers each year. Not surprisingly, the report shows how OTC sales are climbing – more consumers are purchasing these drugs for a variety of ailments, even skipping the physician visit entirely.

Here are a few basic statistics to note:

  • Research shows that 81 percent of adults use OTC medicines as a first response to minor ailments.
  • U.S. consumers make 26 trips a year to purchase OTC products. They only visit doctors, on average, three times a year. On average, U.S. households spend about $338 per year on OTC products.
  • Ninety-three percent of U.S. adults prefer to treat their minor ailments with OTC medicines before seeking professional care.

Top 10 OTC Medications Sold (by Category)

Curious about what kinds of OTC medicines are purchased most often? Here are the top 10 categories in sales, according to the CHPA. Some of them you might not typically consider a drug – toothpaste and deodorant, for example – but they are. While it’s not shocking that upper respiratory drugs – including cold medicine and allergy medicine – are at the very top and are followed closely by pain relievers, some of the other numbers may surprise you.
Top 10 Over-the-counter medications 2014-2017 CHPA. 1. Upper respiratory, 2. Analgesics, internal, including other pain products, 3. Antiperspirants, 4. Toothpaste, 5. Heartburn, 6. First aid, 7. Laxatives, 8. Sun care, 9. Lip/oral treatment, 10. Anti-smoking products
By Denise K. James

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