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Global Over-the-Counter (OTC) Drugs Market to Grow by 6%YoY and Hit $120.8B Value in 2021

Jastra Kranjec
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Over the years, non-prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medicine has become a huge business generating billions of dollars in revenue each year.

The increasing healthcare costs resulted in patients opting for over the counter drugs rather than consulting physicians. At the same time, the growing number of pharmaceutical retail stores and a shift in the focus of pharma companies towards targeting supermarkets and grocery stores as distribution channels fuelled the growth of the entire sector.

According to data presented by Stock Apps, the global OTC drugs market is expected to grow by 6% year-over-year and hit a $120.8bn value in 2021.

Analgesics and Cold and Cough Remedies to Generate $62.7B in Revenue

The over-the-counter (OTC) drugs market includes all medicines sold directly to consumers without a prescription from a healthcare professional. In 2012, the entire sector generated $90.4bn in revenue, revealed Statista data. Over the next seven years, this figure jumped by 26% to $114.6bn. Statistics show the COVID-19 crisis has slowed the market growth, with revenues slipping to $113.8bn in 2020.

However, this figure is forecast to increase by $6.1bn in 2021 and continue growing in the following years. By 2025, the revenues of the global OTC pharmaceuticals industry are expected to hit $142.8bn.

Statistics show that cold and cough remedies represent the market’s largest segment, expected to generate $36.6bn in revenue in 2021, an 8.2% increase in a year. Analgesics ranked second with $26bn in revenue, 8.1% more than in 2020.

Vitamins and minerals sales are forecast to jump by 6.2% YoY and generate $20.7bn in revenue this year. Digestives and intestinal remedies and skin treatment products follow with $17.1bn and $15.2bn, respectively.

Statista data show that hand sanitizers are the only product category in the entire OTC drugs market whose sales is expected to drop by 7.3% year-over-year and hit a $4.9bn value in 2021.

The average revenue per user is set to reach $16.8 in 2021, 10% more than a year ago. Statistics also show that 14% of the combined revenue this year will be generated through online sales, 2% more than in 2020. In the next three years, online sales will account for 15% of combined revenues in the OTC drugs sector.

The Revenues of the US OTC Drugs Market to Jump by 9.5% YoY

The United States dominates the OTC drugs industry and is expected to increase its market share in the future, mostly due to growing consumer demand and the leading trend among pharmaceutical companies to switch from prescription to OTC drugs.

The US National Institutes of Health report showed that 93% of adults in the country prefer to treat minor ailments with OTC drugs before seeking professional care. Also, 85% of parents in the United States choose OTC medications to treat their children’s minor diseases before asking for professional care.

Statistics show the revenues of the US market are expected to jump by 9.5% year-over-year to $27.7bn in 2021.

With $21.1bn in OTC drug sales revenue or 4.9% more than a year ago, China ranked as the second-largest market globally. Japan, Brazil, and India follow, with $6.3bn, $4.9bn, and $4.4bn, respectively.

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