Germany OTC Drug Market - Growth, Trends, COVID-19 Impact, and Forecast (2022-2027)

The Germany OTC Drug Market is Segmented by Products (Cough, Cold, and Flu Products, Analgesics, Dermatology Products, Gastrointestinal Products, Vitamin, Mineral, and Supplement (VMS) Products, Weight-loss/Dietary Products, Ophthalmic Products, Sleeping Aids, and Other Product Types) and Distribution Channel (Retail Pharmacies, Online Pharmacies, and Other Distribution Channels). The report offers the value (in USD million) for the above segments.

Market Snapshot

Germany OTC Drug Market  Size
Study Period: 2019-2027
Base Year: 2021
CAGR: 4.2 %
Germany OTC Drug Market  Key Players

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Market Overview

The Germany OTC Drug Market is expected to grow at a registered CAGR of 4.2% during the forecast period, 2022-2027.

Amidst the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, over-the-counter (OTC) medicines were in high demand due to limited visits to hospitals and clinics. Due to a lack of medical assistance for general medical ailments, the use of telemedicine among the Germans for self-medication using analgesics, cough, cold, & flu products, vitamin, mineral, and supplement (VMS) products, and dermatology products became increasingly popular as a temporary solution. For instance, as per the article titled "Telemedicine in Germany During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Multi-Professional National Survey" published in in August 2020, several telemedical technologies are already in practice in Germany, and new approaches are being rapidly developed in response to the pandemic situation. The study further stated that the majority of participants evaluated telemedicine's importance in the crisis as high as 39%. Additionally, the demand for OTC medications rose significantly among community doctors and physicians due to the increased influx of patients. Moreover, to boost immunization among the populace, the demand for dietary supplements, antibiotics, and vitamins depicted an exponential rise. For instance, in March 2020, Sandoz, one of the largest medical providers, in Europe reported that it was increasing supplies of key antibiotics needed to respond to the COVID-19 crisis owing to the increased demand in the European countries. Therefore, initially the market growth was impacted due to supply chain disruptions and shortages of drugs owing to the nationwide lockdowns and trade restrictions, however, the OTC drug market in Germany is anticipated to gain traction over the coming years.

Furthermore, the major factors propelling the growth of the Germany OTC drug market include product innovation, expanding distribution channels, pharmaceutical companies' shift from Rx to OTC drugs, and rising self-medication among the Germans. Increasing healthcare costs demand better accessibility and affordability of healthcare services. Self-medication with non-prescription drugs has increased in the past years owing to its advantages, such as helping improve the accessibility and cost benefits of healthcare services. Thus, the country witnessed a shift in the trend toward self-medication. For instance, according to the study published in the BMC Public Health in November 2021 by Jingjing Ge, in Germany, 25.2% of caregivers self-medicated their children or adolescents. Vitamin preparations were most frequently used, with a weighted user prevalence of 4.7%, followed by cough and cold medicines (4.4%) and analgesics (3.7%). Thus, such factors are likely to boost the adoption of OTC drugs, thereby propelling the market's growth.

In addition, according to the data updated by the Association of the European Self-medication Industry in 2021/2022, non-prescription medicinal products account for one out of every two packages of medicines sold in Germany. The widespread use of over-the-counter medications has been linked to significant cost savings for healthcare providers. Furthermore, the presence of major global market players in Germany, as well as the strengthening foothold of local manufacturers, is expected to boost the market's growth. For instance, in February 2020, Stada, a German multinational, bought 15 well-known consumer health brands from GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) to bolster its over-the-counter drug business across Germany. As a result, all of these aforementioned factors are estimated to drive the market's growth.

However, incorrect self-diagnosis and the probability of self-abuse may hinder the growth of the market.

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 Germany OTC Drug Market is Segmented by Products (Cough, Cold, and Flu Products, Analgesics, Dermatology Products, Gastrointestinal Products, Vitamin, Mineral, and Supplement (VMS) Products, Weight-loss/Dietary Products, Ophthalmic Products, Sleeping Aids, and Other Product Types) and Distribution Channel (Retail Pharmacies, Online Pharmacies, and Other Distribution Channels). The report offers the value (in USD million) for the above segments.

By Products
Cough, Cold, and Flu Products
Dermatology Products
Gastrointestinal Products
Vitamin, Mineral, and Supplement (VMS) Products
Weight-loss/Dietary Products
Ophthalmic Products
Sleeping Aids
Other Product Types
By Distribution Channels
Retail Pharmacies
Online Pharmacies
Other Distribution Channels

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Key Market Trends

The Cough, Cold, and Flu Products Segment is Expected to Garner a Significant Share in the Market over the Forecast Period

The rise in the number of people affected by cough, cold, and flu, especially among the elderly population, is driving the demand for over-the-counter (OTC) drugs for this segment. The elderly patients' shifting preference toward OTC drugs to treat common diseases such as colds and flu owing to their ready availability at pharmacies without a doctor's prescription is likely to have a positive impact on the segment's growth. Furthermore, the recent COVID-19 pandemic has created a huge demand for over-the-counter (OTC) drugs to treat common COVID-19 symptoms like flu, cold, and cough. Though none of the OTC drugs were found to treat the viral infection, they did provide relief from the infection's common symptoms.

Moreover, according to the study titled "Epidemiology and direct healthcare costs of influenza-associated hospitalizations – nationwide inpatient data (Germany 2010-2019)" published in the BMC Open Journal in January 2022, between January 2010 and December 2019, 156,097 people were admitted to hospitals with laboratory-confirmed influenza. In 2013 and 2015-2019, the annual cumulative incidence was particularly high (12.6 to 60.3 hospitalizations per 100,000 people). As a result, consumers are increasingly reliant on over-the-counter cough and cold medicines as the first line of defense when seeking quick relief from symptoms.

Likewise, Germany was struggling with a wave of winter flu cases in February 2020, with around 80,000 cases reported. According to Germany's federal disease control agency, about half of these cases were confirmed within two weeks. As per a study published by Berlin's Robert Koch Institute (RKI), 130 people have died as a result of the flu this season, with another 13,300 being hospitalized. Since the autumn, a total of 79,263 cases have been reported. During the severe flu outbreak in the winter of 2017-2018, the RKI estimated that 10 million visits to doctors in Germany were caused by the flu.

Thus, owing to the increasing prevalence of flu, colds, and coughs among the Germans, the segment is anticipated to grow over the forecast period.

Germany OTC Drug Market  Share

Germany OTC Drug Market  Analysis

Competitive Landscape

The German over-the-counter (OTC) drug market is highly competitive. Some major players are holding the major share, along with some smaller companies holding a substantial share. However, with product innovations, mid-size to smaller companies are increasing their market presence by introducing new products at lower prices. Key players in the market are Bayer, Pfizer Inc., Sanofi SA, GlaxoSmithKline PLC, and Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC, among others.

Recent Development

In February 2022, Douglas purchased Disapo in order to enter the high-growth online pharmacy market in Germany, starting with over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, which will be offered, sold, and shipped independently through Disapo on the Douglas marketplace.

In October 2021, GSK launched a campaign to educate Germans on how to properly use over-the-counter medications. The firm is launching a public awareness campaign under the slogan "Bewusst richtig handeln."

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 Inclination of Pharmaceutical Companies to Switch From Rx to OTC Drugs

      2. 4.2.2 Increasing Self Medication Among the General Population

    3. 4.3 Market Restraints

      1. 4.3.1 Incorrect Self Diagnosis and High Probability of OTC Drug Abuse

    4. 4.4 Porter's Five Force 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

  5. 5. MARKET SEGMENTATION (Market Size by Value – USD million)

    1. 5.1 By Products

      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 Vitamin, Mineral, and Supplement (VMS) Products

      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 By Distribution Channels

      1. 5.2.1 Retail Pharmacies

      2. 5.2.2 Online Pharmacies

      3. 5.2.3 Other Distribution Channels


    1. 6.1 Company Profiles

      1. 6.1.1 Astrazeneca PLC

      2. 6.1.2 Bayer

      3. 6.1.3 Bristol-Myers Squibb

      4. 6.1.4 Cardinal Health

      5. 6.1.5 GlaxoSmithKline PLC

      6. 6.1.6 Johnson and Johnso

      7. 6.1.7 Leo Pharma AS

      8. 6.1.8 Procter & Gamble ( Merck & Co.)

      9. 6.1.9 Novartis AG

      10. 6.1.10 Pfizer Inc.

      11. 6.1.11 Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC

      12. 6.1.12 Sanofi SA

      13. 6.1.13 Takeda Pharamaceutical Company Ltd

    2. *List Not Exhaustive

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

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Frequently Asked Questions

The Germany OTC Drug Market market is studied from 2019 - 2027.

The Germany OTC Drug Market is growing at a CAGR of 4.2% over the next 5 years.

GlaxoSmithKline PLC, Bayer AG, Sanofi SA, Johnson & Johnson, Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC are the major companies operating in Germany OTC Drug Market.

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