Check safety factors before taking OTC pain relievers

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Many consumers don’t pay attention to safety factors when choosing an over-the-counter pain reliever, according to a new survey from the U.S. Pain Foundation.

The national survey, conducted with support from McNeil Consumer Healthcare, found that while nearly all consumers (97%) say they feel confident when choosing a 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.

The survey of nearly 1,300 U.S. adults found that consumers place more value on how effectively and quickly the medicine will relieve their pain, rather than prioritizing factors that could seriously affect their health, such as age and pre-existing medical conditions.

Top survey findings include:  

"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," says 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."

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.

Dr. David Biondi, Senior Director of Medical Affairs & Clinical Research at McNeil Consumer Healthcare explains, "Not every OTC pain reliever is appropriate for everyone. 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."

How consumers can get pain relief safely and responsibly

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

Five tips for choosing and using OTC pain relievers:

  1. Choose the OTC pain reliever that's right for you based on your health profile.
  2. Always read and follow the Drug Facts label—whether it's the first time or the 100th time. Drug Facts labels change and so does our health.
  3. Stick to the recommended dose and keep track of other medicines you are taking and how they might interact.
  4. Know the active ingredient in your medicine and be sure to take only one medicine that contains the same type of active ingredient at a time.
  5. Avoid taking OTC pain relievers longer than directed on the label, unless told to do so by your healthcare provider.

OTC Pain Reliever Survey Methodology 
From June 24-July 5, 2016, APCO Insight conducted an online and telephone survey on behalf of U.S. Pain Foundation and McNeil Consumer Healthcare that included 1,292 U.S. adults who have used an OTC pain reliever in the last 90 days.

About U.S. Pain Foundation 
U.S. Pain Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to serving those who live with pain conditions, their families, and care providers. Founded in 2010, U.S. Pain Foundation was created by people with pain for people with pain. Its mission is to educate, connect, inform and, empower those living with pain, while also advocating on behalf of the entire pain community. Nationally recognized as a leading patient-focused organization, U.S. Pain Foundation helps individuals find resources and inspiration. For more information, visit www.USPainFoundation.org.