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Over-the-counter medicines

A breakdown of the over-the-counter medicines market in Britain in 2016

The over-the-counter medicines market grew by 2.3% during 2016 to reach £2.62bn.

Download the full print version of the infographic here

Breakdown of otc products by category

Breakdown of OTC medicines by category

The three largest categories in terms of sales in 2016 were pain relief (23.1%), cough, cold and sore throat (19.1%) and skin treatments (17.2%).

Different graptrends in otc products by category

Trends in OTC products by category

Sales in most categories have increased over the past four years, with the exception of smoking cessation and medicated mouthwash, where sales have slightly decreased overall.

Top 20 brands by sales

RB continued to dominate the branded OTC medicines market in 2016, with 6 products in the top 20 brands. Retailers own label products had an 18.7% share of the market.

Category Rank 2016 (change and rank 2015) Brand name Sales 2016 (£m) Manufacturer 
1(↔)Own label 490.2 n/a 
Pain relief 2 (↔) Nurofen 116.8 RB 
Pain relief 3 (↑4) Calpol 66.3 Johnson & Johnson 
Smoking cessation 4 (↓3)Nicorette 66.0 Johnson & Johnson 
Cough, cold and sore throat 5 (↔) Lemsip 63.9 RB 
Gastrointestinal 6 (↔) Gaviscon 62.0 RB 
Pain relief 7 (↑8)Solpadeine 43.1 Omega Pharma 
Pain relief 8 (↑12) Voltarol 39.3 GSK 
Skin treatments 9 (↓7) Canesten 39.2 Bayer 
Eye care treatment 10 (↓9) Optrex 39.1 RB 
Cough, cold and sore throat  11 (↓10)Benylin 36.8 Johnson & Johnson 
Skin treatments 12 (↓11) E45 35.5 RB 
Cough, cold and sore throat  13 (↑15) Sudafed 34.4 Johnson & Johnson 
Cough, cold and sore throat  14 (↔) Strepsils 34.4 RB 
Gastrointestinal 15 (↑17) Imodium 32.7 Johnson & Johnson 
Cough, cold and sore throat  16 (↓13) Halls 32.5 Mondeléz International 
Smoking cessation 17 (↓16) Nicotinell 31.2 GSK 
Gastrointestinal 18 (↔) Rennie 29.8 Bayer 
Vitamins, minerals and anti-tiredness 19 (↔) Seven Seas 25.7 Seven Seas 
Cough, cold and sore throat  20 (↑21)Covonia 23.8 Thornton & Ross 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20202662

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Supplementary images

  • Breakdown of otc products by category
  • Different graptrends in otc products by category

Supplementary information

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