Europe Over-the-Counter (OTC) Drugs Market - Growth, Trends, COVID-19 Impact, and Forecasts (2021- 2026)

The Europe Over-the-Counter (OTC) Drug Market is segmented by Product Type (Cough, Cold, and Flu Products, Analgesics, Dermatology Products, Gastrointestinal Products, Vitamins, Mineral, and Supplements (VMS), Weight-loss/Dietary Products, Ophthalmic Products, Sleeping Aids, and Other Product Types), Distribution Channel (Hospital Pharmacies, Retail Pharmacies, Online Pharmacy, and Other Distribution Channels), and Geography (United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, and Rest of Europe). The report offers the value (in USD million) for the above segments.

Market Snapshot

Europe OTC
Study Period: 2018-2026
Base Year: 2020
CAGR: 5.4 %

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Market Overview

The European over-the-counter (OTC) drugs market is projected to register a CAGR of 5.4% during the forecast period, with a revenue of approximately USD 33,450 million in 2020, and it is expected to reach USD 45,825 million by 2026.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the over-the-counter (OTC) medicines are found witnessing unprecedented demand amid the coronavirus crisis, owing to the restricted visits to the hospitals and health professionals. The absence of medical assistance for general physical disorders is paving the way for pain killers as a temporary solution. The demand from community doctors and physicians has also inflated for OTC medicines, as they are experiencing a greater influx of patients. It has also been found that as there is a growing burden of COVID-19 cases, the purchase of dietary supplements and vitamins has also significantly boosted the market, as people are buying these products to increase immunity and combat the COVID-19 spread.

Moreover, the advent of online pharmacies in the country and the expected launch of online pharmacy services by e-commerce giants, such as Amazon, are expected to drive the market growth for OTC drugs in the country. Furthermore, the main factors that are driving the market growth include increasing self-medication and new product launches.

As per the Ageing Population Report 2019, the population aged 65 years or over in Europe was found to be 140,410 in 2019, and it is expected to reach 199,895 by 2050. As the increasing population continues to age, prevalence rates for chronic disorders are also expected to rise. However, the continuous growth of the geriatric population leads to several old age problems, for which the patients refrain themselves from going to the hospitals, rather get medications and treatment at home. Such factors lead to the growing importance and adoption of basic analgesic OTC product in the market.

It has also been found that the rising healthcare costs demand better accessibility and affordability of healthcare services. Self-medication with non-prescription drugs plays a vital role in this aspect and improves accessibility while providing cost benefits. There is also an increase in self-medication in Europe. According to the Association of the European Self-medication Industry, one out of two packages of medicines sold in Europe is a non-prescription medicinal product. The widespread use of OTC medications is linked with significant cost benefits to the healthcare providers of various countries. OTC medicines provide consumers with the opportunity to take adequate care of themselves, when consulting a physician/doctor is not necessary, which is expected to drive the overall market growth.

Furthermore, the presence of the key global market players and the strengthening of local manufacturers in Germany are expected to boost the market growth. For instance, in February 2020, Germany-based Stada acquired 15 well-established consumer health brands from GSK to strengthen its over-the-counter drug business throughout Europe. Hence, all these factors are found driving the overall market growth.

Scope of the Report

As per the scope of this report, over the counter (OTC) drugs are referred to as nonprescription drugs. These medicines can be bought by individuals without a doctor’s prescription and are safe for consumption without the doctor’s consent. The European over-the-counter (OTC) drug market is segmented by product type (cough, cold, and flu products, analgesics, dermatology products, gastrointestinal products, vitamins, mineral, and supplements (VMS), weight-loss/dietary products, ophthalmic products, sleeping aids, and other product types), distribution channel (hospital pharmacies, retail pharmacies, online pharmacy, and other distribution channels), and geography (United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, and Rest of Europe). The report offers the value (in USD million) for the above segments.

Product Type
Cough, Cold, and Flu Products
Dermatology Products
Gastrointestinal Products
Vitamins, Mineral, and Supplements (VMS)
Weight-loss/Dietary Products
Ophthalmic Products
Sleeping Aids
Other Product Types
Distribution Channel
Hospital Pharmacies
Retail Pharmacies
Online Pharmacy
Other Distribution Channels
United Kingdom
Rest of Europe

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Key Market Trends

The Cough, Cold, and Flu Products Segment is Expected to Register a High Growth Over the Forecast Period

The cough, cold, and flu products segment holds the largest market share, and it is growing at the fastest rate. The increasing volume of use of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs in the cough/cold/flu category is driven by a rise in the number of individuals affected by these conditions.

Moreover, the recent COVID-19 pandemic has also created a huge demand for OTC drugs for the treatment of common symptoms, such as flu, cold, and cough related to the virus. Though it was found that none of the OTC drugs may treat the viral infection, but they will provide relief from the common symptoms of the infection. Additionally, market players have also been frequently launching new products, so as to gain a competitive edge in the market.

The growing prevalence of these common diseases (i.e., cough, cold, and flu) is found among the aging population that has led the patients to use more OTC drugs, as these drugs are readily available and can be bought without a doctor’s prescription. This saves both time and cost required to visit a physician/hospital. Consumers are more dependent on OTC cough and cold medicines as a first response to seek quick relief from symptoms.

In Spain, mild conditions, such as pain, cold, and headache, are increasing, as the OTC drugs are the primary option adopted by the consumers. Thus, the market for OTC drugs is projected to grow. The OTC products, such as throat lozenges, provide immediate relief from throat tickles and contribute to the market.

Owing to their easy procurement and increasing market demand, the sale of OTC drugs for cough, cold, and flu is increasing in Europe. Furthermore, the elderly population is more prone to diseases, which is also expected to drive the OTC drug market in the future.

Europe Over-the-Counter (OTC) Drug Market 1

Competitive Landscape

The European OTC market is found to be highly competitive and consists of several major players. Most of the OTC products are generic drugs; thus, competitive advantage through product innovation is not possible, and major players primarily compete through product branding and competitive pricing practices. In terms of market share, a few of the major players currently dominate the market. However, several generic players increase their market presence by introducing new generic OTC drugs with fewer prices. Companies, like AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Bayer, and Cardinal Health, hold a substantial market share in the European OTC drugs market.

Recent Developments

  • In April 2020, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited entered an agreement to divest a portfolio of select non-core over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription pharmaceutical products sold in Europe and two manufacturing sites located in Denmark and Poland to Orifarm Group for approximately USD 670 million.
  • In March 2020, Tivic Health announced that ClearUP Sinus Relief received the CE Mark approval for temporary relief of sinus pain, pressure, and congestion.

Table of Contents


    1. 1.1 Study Assumptions and Market Definition

    2. 1.2 Scope of the Study




    1. 4.1 Market Overview

    2. 4.2 Market Drivers

      1. 4.2.1 Increasing Self-medication

      2. 4.2.2 Increasing New Product Launches

    3. 4.3 Market Restraints

      1. 4.3.1 High Probability of OTC Drug Abuse

      2. 4.3.2 Lack of Awareness

    4. 4.4 Porter's Five Forces Analysis

      1. 4.4.1 Threat of New Entrants

      2. 4.4.2 Bargaining Power of Buyers/Consumers

      3. 4.4.3 Bargaining Power of Suppliers

      4. 4.4.4 Threat of Substitute Products

      5. 4.4.5 Intensity of Competitive Rivalry


    1. 5.1 Product Type

      1. 5.1.1 Cough, Cold, and Flu Products

      2. 5.1.2 Analgesics

      3. 5.1.3 Dermatology Products

      4. 5.1.4 Gastrointestinal Products

      5. 5.1.5 Vitamins, Mineral, and Supplements (VMS)

      6. 5.1.6 Weight-loss/Dietary Products

      7. 5.1.7 Ophthalmic Products

      8. 5.1.8 Sleeping Aids

      9. 5.1.9 Other Product Types

    2. 5.2 Distribution Channel

      1. 5.2.1 Hospital Pharmacies

      2. 5.2.2 Retail Pharmacies

      3. 5.2.3 Online Pharmacy

      4. 5.2.4 Other Distribution Channels

    3. 5.3 Geography

      1. 5.3.1 United Kingdom

      2. 5.3.2 Germany

      3. 5.3.3 Italy

      4. 5.3.4 France

      5. 5.3.5 Spain

      6. 5.3.6 Rest of Europe


    1. 6.1 Company Profiles

      1. 6.1.1 AstraZeneca PLC

      2. 6.1.2 Bayer AG

      3. 6.1.3 Boehringer Ingelheim International GmbH

      4. 6.1.4 Bristol Myers Squibb Company

      5. 6.1.5 Cardinal Health Inc.

      6. 6.1.6 GlaxoSmithKline PLC

      7. 6.1.7 Johnson & Johnson

      8. 6.1.8 Merck & Co Inc.

      9. 6.1.9 STADA Arzneimittel AG

      10. 6.1.10 Sanofi SA

      11. 6.1.11 Vitaris (Mylan NV)

      12. 6.1.12 Perrigo Company PLC

      13. 6.1.13 Pfizer Inc.

      14. 6.1.14 Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC

      15. 6.1.15 Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd

      16. 6.1.16 Insight Pharmaceuticals

      17. 6.1.17 Novartis AG

      18. 6.1.18 Abbott Laboratories

      19. 6.1.19 Sun Pharmaceuticals Limited

    2. *List Not Exhaustive

**Subject to Availability
**Competitive Landscape Covers - Business Overview, Financials, Products and Strategies, and Recent Developments

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Frequently Asked Questions

The Europe Over-the-Counter (OTC) Drugs Market market is studied from 2018 - 2026.

The Europe Over-the-Counter (OTC) Drugs Market is growing at a CAGR of 5.4% over the next 5 years.

AstraZeneca PLC, Bayer AG, GlaxoSmithKline PLC, Johnson & Johnson, Cardinal Health Inc. are the major companies operating in Europe Over-the-Counter (OTC) Drugs Market.

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