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J Postgrad Med. 2020 Jan-Mar;66(1):28-34. doi: 10.4103/jpgm.JPGM_381_19.

Over-the-counter medicines: Global perspective and Indian scenario.

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Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital, Mumbai, India.
Behavioral Neuroscience Group, Department of Psychology, University of Tasmania, Australia.


Patients often approach a pharmacist instead of visiting a doctor for minor ailments such as cough, cold, allergies, pain, fever, acidity, diarrhea, and skin-related conditions. Purchase of specific medicines over the counter is legally recognized in most countries. 'Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medicines' means drugs which are legally allowed to be sold by pharmacists without need for a prescription. The term does not have a legal definition in India. Technically, drugs are OTC unless they are specifically stated as prescription only drugs. OTC drugs allow faster and cheaper access to healthcare; however, their misuse and adverse health effects cause concerns. This article describes concept of OTC medicines and practices in India against the background of globally prevalent regulations and practices. A recognized category of OTC medicines by law, patient awareness programs, and support of pharmacists and pharmaceutical companies are required to optimize the use of OTC medicines in India.


Drugs and cosmetics act; nonprescription drugs; over-the-counter; self-medications

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