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U.S. Pain Foundation survey suggests consumers should research OTC analgesics before purchase


FORT WASHINGTON, Pa. - A national survey conducted by the U.S. Pain Foundation, with support from McNeil Consumer Healthcare, has found that while nearly all consumers (97%) say they feel confident when choosing which over-the-counter pain reliever to take, many disregard important safety factors that medical professionals say are critical to selecting which OTC pain reliever is most appropriate for their health profile.

"Not every OTC pain reliever is appropriate for everyone," noted David Biondi, senior director of medical affairs and clinical research at McNeil Consumer Healthcare. "When you're in pain, it becomes easy to reach for the first OTC pain reliever on the shelf, but it's always important to consider your current health profile. A pain reliever that was right for you in the past may not be the right choice for you now."

The survey of nearly 1,300 U.S. adults found that when deciding which OTC pain reliever to take, consumers place the most value on how effectively and quickly the medicine will relieve their pain, rather than prioritizing factors that could seriously impact their health such as age and pre-existing medical conditions.

Specifically, the top survey findings include:


  • Nearly half (45%) do not consider the prescription medicines they are currently taking;

  • More than half (58%) do not consider their pre-existing health conditions;

  • Two in three (65%) do not consider other OTC medicines they are taking;

  • Three out of four (73%) of those 60 and over do not consider their age; and

  • One in five (20%) do not consider any of these important safety factors.

For many consumers, certain OTC pain relievers may not be appropriate. For example, if you have existing stomach or heart conditions, or you are over the age of 60, some NSAIDs may increase the risk of heart attack, stroke or stomach bleeding.

"When choosing an OTC pain reliever, consumers should always balance finding effective relief with important safety considerations like their age, current health conditions, and other medicines they are taking," stated Paul Gileno, founder of the U.S. Pain Foundation, an organization dedicated to serving those who live with pain conditions. "People with pre-existing conditions, or those that are currently taking prescription medicines, need to be especially careful when choosing an OTC medicine for pain relief."

To help consumers make more informed decisions when choosing OTCs for their pain, McNeil Consumer Healthcare has expanded, which now offers more resources for consumers and healthcare professionals on how to safely choose, use and store OTC pain relievers.


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