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Over the Counter Medications

Medically reviewed on May 7, 2019 by L. Anderson, PharmD.

In the U.S., there are more than 80 classes of over-the-counter (OTC) medications, ranging from acne medicines to weight loss products.

OTC drugs are medications that are safe and effective for use by the general public without seeking treatment by a health professional. Popular examples include pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), cough suppressants such as dextromethorphan (Robitussin) and antihistamines like loratadine (Claritin 24H). These drugs are usually located on shelves in pharmacies, grocery stores, and even in gas stations. OTC medicines treat a variety symptoms due to illness including pain, coughs and colds, diarrhea, heartburn, constipation, acne, and others.

Popular OTC Related Searches

More information about OTC products

What is an Rx-to-OTC switch?

Many OTC drugs have undergone a prescription to over-the-counter switch -- also known as “Rx-to-OTC switch” -- meaning they were previously available only with a prescription but now can be bought as a nonprescription product. For example, proton-pump inhibitors like esomeprazole (Nexium 24HR) and stomach acid blockers like ranitidine (Zantac 150), both used for heartburn, are examples of products that have made the Rx-to-OTC switch. The emergency contraceptive pill (“the morning-after pill”) known as Plan B One Step is now available OTC without age restriction and can be found on the shelves in many pharmacies in the U.S.

Are some drugs kept behind the pharmacy counter?

A more restricted class of OTC drugs also exists. These products, while considered OTC, are kept behind the pharmacy counter and are dispensed by a pharmacist. Some products, such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), which is subject to abuse, may require proper identification and a signature. Naloxone is a life-saving drug that can reverse sedation and depressed breathing in an opioid-overdose. In all states, pharmacists are now allowed to dispense naloxone (Narcan Nasal, Narcan) to the public based on a standing prescription order or other rules specific to their state.

Does the FDA review over-the-counter (OTC) drugs?

The review of OTC medications is primarily handled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Division of Drug Information (CDER), the Office of Drug Evaluation, and the Nonprescription Drug Advisory Committee. These teams evaluate and review OTC ingredients and labels. An OTC drug monograph is established for each class of product. The monograph contains acceptable ingredients, doses, formulations, and labeling. New products that conform to an existing OTC drug monograph may be marketed without further FDA review. Those OTC products that do not conform to an OTC monograph must undergo approval through the FDA’s New Drug Approval System.

Are over-the-counter (OTC) drugs safe to use?

Over-the-counter medications can still carry a risk, even though they do not require a prescription. There is the possibility of side effects, drug interactions, or harm due to excessive doses. Consumers should read the “Drug Facts” label that is found on all OTC products. All patients should consult with their doctor, pharmacist or other health care provider if they have additional questions concerning OTC drug use. Pregnant women should speak with their doctor before taking any medication, vitamin, or herbal supplement, even if it's an OTC product.

OTC Product A-Z Index

A

A 50% ISOPROPYL Rubbing Alcohol → Alchemy Living Alchemy Living Sanitizing Wipes → Antacid Ultra Strength Anti Allergy → Aspirin Delayed Release Aspirin EC → Azo Urinary Tract Defense Antibacterial Protection

B

Baby Eczema Therapy → BioMiracle staysafe ANTIBACTERIAL HANDSoap BioMiracle staysafe HAND SANITIZER → Byotrol Antibacterial Foaming Hand Sanitizer

C

C Lax Laxative → CERAVIDA FRESH CERTAIN DRI ROLL-ON → CITRAMON Citroma Magnesium Citrate → Compound Benzoin Tincture Compoz MAXIMUM STRENGTH nighttime sleep aid → CVS Health Lidocaine Pain Relief CVS Health Maximum Strength → Cystex Plus

D

D-CAL → DG Health Cold and Flu Relief Daytime DG Health Cough DM → Dr. Teals Pre and Post Workout Pain Relief Dr.Clinic ANTIBACTERIAL WET WIPES WITH ALCOHOL → Dynashield

E

E MEI SHAN MEDICATED → Equate Nasal Allergy Equate nasal original → EZ Nite Sleep Nighttime Sleep Aid

F

Family Care Advanced Formula Eye → FUNGUS MD FUSTIN ANTIBACTERIAL WIPES → FYZICAL SPORTS Pain Relief

G

G AND Y ANTIBACTERIAL WET WIPES → GOODSENSE ARTIFICIAL TEARS GOODSENSE LUBRICATING EYE DROPS → GYNO-BETADINE

H

H BIOTICS → HISTEX-DM HOBOCO AND CO FRENCH LAVENDER → Hyundai Moolpas F

I

IBrea Micro Silver Anti Bacterial With Pure Silver → IZUN Periactive Mouthwash

J

Jangdaewon Probiotics Kids → Just Right 5000

K

Kalaya Pain Relief 6X with Arnica → KY Duration for Men

L

LA FEMME V Feminine Cleanser → LUCASOL Hand Instant Hand Sanitizer Lucky Hand Sanitizer Lavender → Luxe Traditions

M

M Skin Care Hand Sanitizer → Members mark famotidine Members mark fexofenadine → Mountain Ice Pain Relief Mouth Rinse → Mystic Foaming Hand Sanitizer

N

Nadinola Skin Fade for Oily Skin → Nux moschata NUX VOMICA → NyQuil Severe plus Vicks VapoCool Cold and Flu

O

Oasis Tears PF Preservative-Free Lubricant Eye → Oyster Shell Calcium with Vitamin D

P

Pain and Fever Relief Infants → Personal Care Products petroleum Personal Care Pyrithione Zinc Dandruff → PROCLEAN HAND SANITIZER PROCLEARZ MAXIMUM STRENGTH FUNGAL SHIELD BRUSH-ON ANTIFUNGAL → PYRITHIONE ZINC

Q

Q-Tapp DM Elixir → QUITA COLICOS Gas RELIEF Drops

R

Ramosu Collagen Ampoule 200 → Ringl Ringmaster Rubbing Oil → RYNEX PSE

S

S.T.37 → Servo Stat-Foam Severe Allergy And Sinus Headache Maximum Strength → Sleep II Nighttime Sleep Aid Sleep Nighttime Sleep Aid → Sulfur 8 Light Anti-Dandruff Hair and Scalp Conditioner Sulfur 8 Scalp Therapy Medicated Dandruff Control Scalp Oil Serum → Systane Ultra

T

T-RAOJO → TopCare Omeprazole Topcare Pain Relief → TYLO Extra Strength

U

Uber Numb Topical Anesthetic → UTIMI Water Based Personal Lubricant

V

Vagi care → VVARDIS SET SOFT MINT

W

Wal Dryl → WinCo Antifungal WinCo Foods Maximum Strength Oral Analgesic → WU YANG BRAND MEDICATED

X

X Out Cleansing Body Bar → Xtreme Ultra Slim Hand Sanitizer

Y

Y LAX DR → YUNNAN BAIYAO ARTHRITIS PAIN RELIEF

Z

Z-Guard → ZzzQuil Nighttime Sleep-Aid

0

0.13% Benzalkonium Chloride Instant Hand sanitizer → 0.13% Benzalkonium Chloride Instant Hand sanitizer

1

1.8oz Armstrong Hand Sanitizer with Aloe Vera and Vitamin E → 1st RELIEF TOPICAL

2

24 Hour Allergy Relief nasal → 28 Mile Fools Gin Hand Sanitizer

3

3 Pack Assured Instant Hand Sanitizer with moisturizers (Vitamin E and moisturizers) lavender scented → 3M Skin and Nasal Antiseptic

4

4Jointz → 4Jointz

5

5% Minoxidil Topical Solution → 50% Isopropyl Alcohol

6

62% Ethyl Alcohol Antiseptic Nasal → 62% Ethyl Alcohol Antiseptic Nasal

7

7 DAY VAGINAL → 75% Ethyl Alcohol Disinfecting Wipes

8

8HR Arthritis Pain Relief → 8HR Arthritis Pain Relief

9

999 COLD REMEDY → 999 ITCH RELIEF