Pharmacists rank best over-the-counter medicines of 2024

Products made by Nature Made, CeraVe and Neutrogena had the most No. 1 rankings.
Pharmacist holding prescription.
Posted at 10:35 AM, Mar 28, 2024

In a survey of 354 pharmacists and 122 dermatologists, a new report highlights the highest-rated over-the-counter medicines for 2024. 

The report released by U.S. News and World Reporton Thursday provided rankings for 132 different categories. Products made by Nature Made, CeraVe and Neutrogena had the most No. 1 rankings. 

“With hundreds of thousands of over-the-counter health products on the market in the U.S., the U.S. News annual Best OTC Medicine & Health Products rankings help consumers choose the best OTC products for themselves and their families,” said Sumita Singh, general manager of Health at U.S. News. “Continuing our commitment to offer consumers trusted, data-backed ratings and rankings to help with their health care decisions, the 2024 evaluation features statistically ‘best’ brands evaluated by hundreds of pharmacists and dermatologists."

The survey was administered online in February and includes categories such as cough suppressants, multivitamins, baby formula and face washes. 

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In leading categories, these products ranked the best, according to pharmacists: 

Children's cough medicines: Children's Delsym

Cough drops: Halls

Cough suppressants: Delsym

Decongestants, oral: Sudafed (Pseudoephedrine)

Diarrhea medicines and treatments: Imodium

Eye vitamins: Bausch + Lomb Ocutive

Fish Oil/Omega-3 supplements: Nature Made

Laxatives: MiraLAX

Multivitamins for men: Centrum

Multivitamins for women: One a day

Nausea remedies: Dramamine Nausea

Saline nasal sprays: Chloraseptic

Some of the top items ranked by dermatologists include: 

Eye cream for wrinkles: La Roche-Posay

Face moisturizers: CeraVe

Face washes and cleansers: CeraVe

Hand creams: Neutrogena

Moisturizers with SPF: CeraVe

Night creams: CeraVe

Retinol creams and serums: Neutrogena

Sunscreen for face: EltaMD

Vitamin C serum: La Roche-Posay

Vitamins for hair growth: Nutrafol

Wrinkle creams: Neutrogena

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The Food and Drug Administration reviews over-the-counter medicines for their safety and effectiveness before giving them approval to be used without a prescription. 

"All OTC drug products have to meet FDA quality, effectiveness, and safety standards. While easier to obtain and use than prescription drugs, it is important to understand that these products are medicines and not without risks. Before using any medicine, you should think through the benefits and the risks to make the best choice for you," the FDA said. 

Scrutiny on some over-the-counter products has grown after a Food and Drug Administration panel said last year that some cold and flu remedies such as Dayquil, Mucinex, Sudafed PE, Allegra and Benadryl are mainly ineffective. The active ingredient phenylephrine is still recognized as safe, but without efficacy, the drug can't fulfill the full generally recognized as safe and effective designation, which allows drugmakers to include an ingredient in OTC products without filing an FDA application.

The FDA has not lifted its approval of the products despite the panel's recommendation. Some pharmacies, however, have pulled these products from shelves.