CHPA Educational Foundation Survey Provides Insight into What Consumers Need to Know About Over-the-Counter Medicines

Education about in-home medicine disposal a growing priority for

Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) Educational Foundation

today released a national survey, which was conducted to identify
consumers’ knowledge gaps around the appropriate use, storage, and
disposal of oral over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and to inform future
foundation programs and initiatives. The survey was conducted online by
Harris Poll on behalf of the CHPA Educational Foundation in February
2015 among 2,002 U.S. adults 18 and older who have used or purchased
oral OTC medicines in the last six months.

While the majority of consumers are using OTC medicines safely and
appropriately, three in five consumers (62 percent) have never sought
information about how to properly dispose of unwanted or expired OTC
medicines despite the fact that nearly nine in 10 adults (89 percent)
say the way in which someone disposes OTC medicines is important. About
half of consumers (49 percent) indicated that they desire to know more
about proper disposal of their OTC medicines.

“This year, the CHPA Educational Foundation made consumer education
about safe medicine disposal one of our top priorities, and these survey
findings affirm that this is an area where we should continue to grow
our programming in order to reach more consumers,” said Emily Skor,
executive director of the CHPA Educational Foundation.

In March, the CHPA Educational Foundation relaunched its online home –
– and populated the website with new resources on OTC medicine disposal
including instructions
for a simple, FDA-recommended “1, 2, 3 step” method for in-home
disposal. Throughout the year, the foundation has distributed this
information to consumers through various mediums including an infographic,
and poster.
The graphics are distributed widely through the foundation’s social
media channels and by the CHPA Educational Foundation’s parent blogger
ambassadors. The poster was distributed nationally through a partnership
with the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) and is
available for additional groups and consumers to order or download from

AAPCC Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Stephen T.
Kaminski, J.D., said mobilizing consumers to practice safe medicine
disposal and storage is key to preventing accidental medicine ingestions.

“It’s too easy for unused or expired medications to get into the hands
of children, addicts, and others for whom they can be dangerous, and we
will continue to support consumer education efforts for proper storage
and disposal,” Kaminski said. “Across the country, we support the 55
poison centers in their efforts to prevent and treat accidental poison
exposures, and consumers can access our Poison Help line at
1-800-222-1222 for confidential medical advice. We also encourage
parents to talk to their children about medication safety, and visit
for resources on how to keep children safe.”

Additional key insights from the survey include the following:

  • The vast majority of adults with children under 18 in the household
    and give or purchase OTCs for their child(ren) are diligent when
    giving OTC medicine to a child.

    • 98 percent look closely at the age restrictions on the OTC
      medicines they give the child(ren) in their household
    • 96 percent check the label to make sure the medicine is
      appropriate for the child(ren)’s age in their household
  • Over six in 10 consumers (62 percent) say they would consult with a
    healthcare professional if they were going to use an OTC medicine
    other than how it is directed on the label.
  • The majority of adults (84 percent) know where to find information on
    safe OTC medicine storage, yet some still store their medicines where
    children can reach them. One in three adults with children in the home
    (36 percent) reported that the location where OTC medicines are stored
    in their home could be accessible to a child.
  • 84 percent of consumers say they check the expiration date at least
    sometimes when using an OTC medicine for themselves, and 93 percent of
    those with children in the household check at least sometimes for
    their child.
  • Seven in 10 consumers (70 percent) express they could be better at
    properly disposing of their OTC medications.

Skor said the additional findings on use and safe medicine storage will
provide guidance for the foundations’ 2016 priorities and programming
and the foundation’s Up
and Away and Out of Sight
campaign, run in partnership with the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and its PROTECT

An overview of the survey key findings can be found here.

The CHPA Educational Foundation’s mission is to be the trusted source
of information on the responsible use of consumer healthcare products
including over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and dietary supplements.
Through public/private partnerships, national educational campaigns, and
media efforts, the foundation educates consumers on how to safely use,
store, and dispose of OTC medicines and dietary supplements. Information
and materials represent the latest medical and scientific thinking and
research and address specific areas where we know consumers need
guidance and support.

All resources for consumers are available through,
the online home of the CHPA Educational Foundation.

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris
Poll on behalf of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA)
from February 3 – 9, 2015, among 2,002 U.S. adults age 18+ who have used
or purchased oral OTC medicines in the last six months. For complete
survey method, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes,
please contact Colleen Creighton, Director, CHPA Educational Foundation.
Her email is


Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA)
Roberson, 202.429.9260