OTC (Nonprescription) Drugs

Development and Regulation of OTC (Nonprescription) Drug Products

Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are developed under the OTC Monograph Process or through the New Drug Evaluation (NDA) Process. FDA's review of OTC drugs is primarily handled by the Center for Drug Evaluation's Office of Drug Evaluation IV

OTC Drugs Developed Through the NDA Process

A sponsor seeking to market its product OTC, either as a new NDA or as a switch from a prescription product, applies to the Division of Nonprescription Clinical Evaluation (DNCE) in the Office of Drug Evaluation IV. DNCE will oversee drug development, including the review and regulatory action on Investigational New Drugs (INDs), and may obtain input from the specific subject matter review division (SSMRD) during the development process. After a sponsor submits an NDA, DNCE reviews the consumer studies, the post marketing safety data, the OTC labeling, and any regulatory issues. The SSMRD collaborates with DNCE (see MaPP 6020.50) and typically provides review of the efficacy and safety data related to controlled clinical trials. Additional input is obtained as needed from other disciplines outside of DNCE, including, clinical pharmacology, statistics, and chemistry.

OTC Drugs Developed Under the OTC Drug Monograph Process

The Division of Nonprescription Regulation Development (DNRD) in the Office of Drug Evaluation IV is responsible for the development of the OTC drug monographs. Data presented to support the safety and efficacy of different active ingredients in a particular drug monograph are reviewed by appropriate scientific personnel. Efficacy data may require the input of a medical officer and/or statistician from a prescription review division. Carcinogenicity or other animal toxicology data may require input from a CDER pharmacologist. So, while DNRD is considered to be the lead division in the development of an OTC drug monograph, reviewers from multiple divisions within the Office of New Drugs (OND) are involved in this process.

Although pre-approval by FDA for drugs marketed under a drug monograph is not required, many companies seek assurance that the product they intend to market under the drug monograph complies with the regulations. These cases are primarily handled by DNRD unless consultation with Compliance or another review division is necessary. If a drug cannot comply with the drug monograph, an IND and approved NDA is necessary before the drug product may be marketed.

Who to contact

  • For questions about the regulation of OTC products:  

Marketed under OTC Monographs
(All Categories)

Toll Free
(855) 543-3784, or
(301) 796-3400

Marketed or proposed for marketing under an NDA

Nonprescription Drug Products Project Manager Contacts for Drug Categories 


Page Last Updated: 12/04/2014
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