Over the counter pharmaceuticals (OTC), which are also known as prescription-free pharmaceuticals, is a growing market due to a continuous shift from prescription drugs to prescription-free to improve the access to medication and lower the cost of healthcare. OTC covers a wide range of medications ranging from pain killers and cough syrups to topical pain relief creams, eye drops and ear drops to mention a few.


Since OTC drugs are used in self-medication, the label performs an important task of providing important safety and dosage related information to the patient. Labels on OTC medicine packages must support in delivering vital information throughout their lifecycle.  In some cases, a multilayer or booklet label construction is needed in order to be able to provide all the necessary information.  



Pre-tested and sustainable OTC labeling materials

Labels elevate the brand appeal to engage consumers in store shelves. Branding in OTC pharmaceuticals is more important than in prescription drugs and therefore a glossy paper or film is often chosen as the label face material to accommodate vivid multicolor printing. There is also high demand for more sustainable packaging solutions to increase shelf appeal and impact consumer decision-making in an increasingly competitive market. The key role of pharmaceutical packaging, including labels, is to protect and deliver the drug safely to patients. This must be prioritized when changing to more sustainable or eye-catching materials. UPM Raflatac’s OTC dedicated labeling materials are not only pre-tested to provide robust performance, but also support in taking steps towards a more sustainable future. 
Non-pharma dedicated label materials can often also be used in OTC labeling. However, they cause risks as they are not necessarily optimized to meet specific requirements, and do not often have change management protocols. UPM Raflatac’s OTC-dedicated labeling solutions have been specifically designed and extensively pre-tested (following FINAT test method FTM24) to meet regulatory requirements, and are offered with change management service to ensure material remains the same as originally qualified. 



Choosing the right OTC labeling material

When choosing label material for OTC, the container type, storage and transport conditions as well as the drug form (solid or liquid) need to be taken into consideration. The requirements for the label depend on the bottle substrate and the sensitivity of the medical substance within. For example, glass acts as a natural barrier and therefore do not require specialized migration safe solutions. Plastic containers, however, are often more sensitive, and migration safe labeling solutions are recommended especially with liquid drugs.