Over-the-counter (OTC) products are medications regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that are available without a prescription. Approximately 1000 unique active ingredients are available OTC and consist of hundreds of thousands of marketed products. A recent trend shows that patients want to become more involved in their own health care. One way to do this is to use nondrug measures by adjusting diet and incorporating exercise to improve health. In some instances, these approaches may not provide patients with adequate results when used alone, so OTC products make a convenient next step.

This entry addresses the FDA's role in overseeing OTC agents, including labeling requirements. It also describes several of the most common uses of OTC products, product availability, and some considerations for use. ...

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