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An overview of over-the-counter drugs

Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are nonprescription medications; in other words, you don’t need a doctor’s prescription to purchase them. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) reports OTC medications are safe as long as they are taken as directed on the label or as directed by your doctor.1

Common examples of over-the-counter drugs

For some common ailments, such as a cold or headache, OTC drugs may be able to relieve your symptoms while saving you time and money. Talk to your healthcare provider to make certain this is the right choice for you. Below are examples of OTC drugs:

  • Pain relievers: Tylenol®, Advil®, Aleve®, Ibuprofen
  • Cold and flu medications: Sudafed, Mucinex DM
  • Heartburn medications: Tums®, Pepcid AC, Prilosec
  • Allergy medications: Allegra®, Zyrtec®, Claritin

Cost and convenience benefits

Because these are nonprescription medications, you don’t have to wait to have a prescription filled by the pharmacist. Most OTC medications are easily accessible to consumers and can help with treating symptoms of common ailments quickly and at a reduced cost.

Savings for Medicare members

Depending on your plan, Medicare members may receive an allowance to help them save money on OTC products like vitamins, pain relievers, cough and cold medicines, first-aid supplies and more. To see if this allowance is included with your plan, sign in to MyHumana and go to “Coverage and Benefits.”


  1. “Understanding Over-the-Counter Medicines,” Food & Drug Administration, last accessed July 7, 2023,, opens new window

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