India Over the Counter Drugs Market Research Report - By Formulation Type, Product Type, Distribution and Country - Analysis on Size, Share, Trends, COVID-19 Impact & Growth Forecast (2024 to 2029)

Updated On: June, 2024
ID: 746
Pages: 126

India Over the Counter Drugs Market

The Indian Over the Counter (OTC) drugs market was worth USD 9.09 billion in 2023. The Indian market is further estimated to grow at a CAGR of 19.4% from 2024 to 2029 and reach 28.69 billion by 2029 from USD 11.82 billion in 2024.

Current Scenario India Over the Counter Drugs Market

The sale of over-the-counter drugs has been seeing a tremendous rise every year, driving the market forward. Moreover, the central and state governments are working together to improve the current industry dynamics and sales patterns. They have formed multiple committees to study the market problems and come up with appropriate suggestions.

In May 2024, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) created a sub-committee to re-evaluate the guidelines and incorporate potential amendments in drug provisions to qualify as over-the-counter (OTC). The development comes after advice from the Drugs Technical Advisory Board’s (DTAB) meeting concluded in January 2024. Hence, the Indian OTC market size will expand in the coming years. Also, with advertisements, rising job stress levels, and increased health awareness, urban India is experiencing a rapid surge in OTC drug sales.

Also, the market share of generic medicines increased in the last few years owing to the government’s efforts towards their promotion as well as the availability of Janaushadhi Kendras.

However, the overconsumption of antibiotic medicines and the growing e-pharmacies are the two major concerns for the India over the counter drugs market.


The shift in consumer attitudes towards self-medication, product advancements and pharmaceutical firm’s preference for OTC medicines over prescription drugs are majorly driving the Indian over-the-counter drugs market.

This transition can be due to the rising consumer cognisance, improved internet accessibility and availability of essential medications.

The rapid growth of Unified Payment Interface (UPI) payments particularly in the pharmacy sector has greatly boosted the market growth rate. Likewise, Google Pay and PhonePe registered 85 per cent of UPI transactions in their name in May 2024 alone. Therefore, the growing digital infrastructure, swift change to the online payment ecosystem and the adoption of contact-less transactions are elevating the India over the counter drugs market.

Recently, the number of people buying OTC drugs online has significantly increased owing to the growing awareness among people about the benefits of these drugs. Delivery platforms like Swiggy Genie, Zepto, etc. and also established players such as Tata 1 mg.

Moreover, the central and state governments are developing new procedures and policies to monitor and support online medicine purchases and over-the-counter products.

The other major factors propelling the Indian market are the increasing disposable income of the people, the growing health consciousness, and the rising ageing-related problems with new social diseases in the region. In addition, the cost-effectiveness of self-medication and OTC medicines is also a crucial element in fuelling the Indian over-the-counter drugs market growth.

The government’s approval for the sale of medicines from grocery shops and supermarkets provides a potential opportunity for companies operating in the India over the counter drugs market. Since the country does not have any specific list for the OTC category and also the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) considers all medicines beyond prescription drugs come in this category. In addition, opposition from the All India Organization for Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD) and related stakeholders regarding the growing online medicine industry is a key prospect for the India over the counter market. In May 2024, the AIOCD requested the government to incorporate the prohibition of e-pharmacies, deep discounts and their marketing activities to protect the retail industry. Similarly, in November 2023, the Delhi High Court instructed the Union of India to prepare the policy about online drug sales in under eight weeks. If failed, the Joint Secretary will have to appear in court personally. Such developments are likely to provide more opportunities to the industry players.


Polypharmacy, medicine interactions, drug abuse and excessive dosage are hampering the growth of the India over the counter drugs market. The overconsumption and misapplication of antibiotics have become ineffective for a fairly large population, negatively impacting the industry. A big section of people favours this medicine for small and mild common diseases and flu which has made them immune to antibiotics. Moreover, several of these medicines are unapproved but are still being sold in the market. This also adds to the antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and the lack of trust in OTC drugs. As per a study on the Indian market, the prevalence rate of self-medication practice ranges between 11 per cent and 93 per cent within the lower and middle-income groups. Hence, the tendency to self-manage symptoms has attracted government attention and the upcoming measure can decrease the India over the counter drugs market share.

The steady increase in medicine costs and quality issues are hindering the growth of India over the drug counter market size. The high medical expenditure is one of the major problems in front of the domestic industry with lower and middle-class populations struggling to afford good quality health treatment. As per the latest survey, there was a 12 per cent and 10 per cent rise in essential drugs cost in 2023 and 2022. The market saw another spike in costs of over 800 drugs on the National List of Essential Medicines from April 2024. This involves antibiotics, painkillers and anti-infectives.


India Over the Counter Drugs Market Analysis By Formulation Type

  • Tablets     
  • Liquids     
  • Ointments              
  • Sprays      

The tablets segment holds the maximum share of the India over the counter drugs market. This can be credited to the consumer's inclination towards solid dosage type. According to a study published in 2023 by the National Library of Medicine, more than 42 per cent of respondents choose tablets for the dosage form. Also, the majority of participants i.e. over 63 per cent are concerned by the medication size and small-sized were the most favoured one with more than 59 per cent. Likewise, 71.2 per cent like to take the oral route for administration. Therefore, the tablet segment’s market share is projected to rise in the coming years.

India Over the Counter Drugs Market Analysis By Product Type

  • Cough, Cold, and Flu Drugs
  • Analgesics
  • Dermatologicals   
  • Gastrointestinal Drugs
  • Antiseptics             
  • Anti-Allergy Drugs
  • Smoking Cessation Aids    
  • Ophthalmic Drugs
  • Vitamins and Minerals      
  • Sleep Aids            
  • Weight Loss/Diet Products           
  • Others (Ear Drops & Diuretics)   

The cough, cold and flu drugs segment is the leading category of the India over the counter drugs market. The higher incidence of respiratory diseases, especially Influenza A (H1N1) is driving the segment’s market growth. The industry saw widespread cases in States including West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra, etc. Moreover, the country has experienced a significant surge in patients with RSV and other respiratory conditions which is fuelling the cough, cold and flu OTC medicines. This pattern has steadily grown after the post-pandemic period.

Analgesics is another segment growing at a positive rate followed by gastrointestinal and then by vitamins and minerals. The patients in the country are allowed to consume lower opioids which is utilized for the treatment of terminal illness or chronic diseases.

India Over the Counter Drugs Market Analysis By Distribution Channel                         

  • Pharmacies/Drugstores    
  • Supermarkets/Hypermarkets        
  • Convenience stores           
  • Others (Online Drugstores)

The pharmacies/drugstores segment continues to dominate the India over the counter market. The data released by the government shows that more than 15 percent of the nation’s retail sales for druggists and chemists is of OTC medications. Apart from this, the easy availability of dispensaries is one of the main reasons behind the segment’s persistent demand. The increased reach and penetration of pharmacy retail chains, like MedPlus and Care Pharmacy, are elevating its market size. The overall figure for pharmacy stores ranges between 700K to 1000K.

On the other, the online drugstores under the other segment is quickly gaining traction among the tire-1 and to some extent tire-2 cities. The home delivery of medicines and other medical products has become the preferred option if the facility is available to them.

The supermarket and grocery store segments are likely to grow as the Indian government is considering approving the sale of common and essential medicines from these channels.

India Over the Counter Drugs Market Analysis By Country

India over the counter drugs market has been witnessing rapid growth in the last few years. This is due to costly medical services, a growing population and greater healthcare awareness.

Moreover, the industry is led by products like cough, cold and flu, respiratory, gastrointestinal, dermatological, analgesics and VMS (vitamins, minerals, and supplements). Also, the increasing demand for OTC items and customer patterns in complete healthcare solutions is influencing the sale of these medicines.

As of now, there is no particular law or regulation governing the OTC drugs sector in India. So, a strong and well-regulated separate section, more initiatives and programs for patient awareness and the inclusion of pharmaceutical companies and pharmacists in enhancing its application are required in the country.

For instance, in April 2024, a 3-member committee of gynaecologists was constituted to decide and conclude a list of OTC drugs. These will be available in normal shops without prescriptions nearby instead of chemists.


The major companies operating in the India over the drug market include Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Aurobindo Pharma, Cipla, Lupin, Alkem Laboratories Ltd., Abbott India, Divi's Laboratories, Mankind Pharma, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Zydus Cadila Healthcare and Procter & Gamble.


  • In May 2024, the Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation (CDSCO) revoked the powers assigned to state licencing authorities for granting No Objection Certificates (NOC) for the production of prohibited, un-approved or export of new medicines. This came after quality issues raised by the United States.
  • In May 2024, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) requested its state counterparts to prepare and furnish the list of antibiotic combinations licensed for production and promotional activities in their respective states in two weeks.

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