Demand for over-the-counter (OTC) medicines in the UK has grown in the last year, according to a new report.

Retail sales of OTC products rose by 6.7% in the year ending February 2015, according to the ‘OTC Pharmaceuticals’ report by market intelligence provider Key Note.

They put this down to a rise in prescription charges in England, the NHS budget squeeze, the government’s promotion of self-care and self-medication, and the switching of some prescription medicines to OTC products.

Analgesics are the largest sector in the OTC market, accounting for 21.5% of total sales. It is estimated that around two-thirds of the adult population in the UK purchase an analgesic every year, 61.9% of which are oral drugs.

The second largest sector is skincare treatments at 19.4% of sales, with footcare as the largest subsector within this market. Sales of footcare products have seen consistent year-on-year growth over the past 5 years, which the report says is driven by the UK’s ageing population and rising obesity rates.

Cough, cold and sore-throat remedies are the third largest OTC sector at 17.8% of total sales, followed by gastro-intestinal drugs at 9.6%.

Key Note predicts that the OTC market will grow by a further 3% in 2015/2016 and 3.3% in 2016/2017.