Cough Medicine Consumer Insights National Survey

To read the key findings from the Cough Medicine Consumer Insights National Survey, click here.

To read the full presentation of results, click here.


NEW SURVEY: NEARLY 7 OUT OF 10 CONSUMERS REPORT THAT OTC COUGH MEDICINES ALLOW THEM TO STAY PRODUCTIVE AT WORK AND SCHOOL
Center for Medicine in the Public Interest Study Confirms OTC Cough Medicines are the Relied- Upon First Response to Treat Cough Symptoms in Both Children and Adults

New York (February 16, 2012)– Results of a new survey released today by the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest (CMPI) found that the majority of adult consumers and parents in the United States rely on accessible, affordable over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines to treat themselves and their families’ cough symptoms. Sixty-eight percent of adult consumers agreed that OTC cough medicines allow them to stay productive at work and school, and 60 percent of parents reported that these medicines allowed their children to stay productive at school. The survey illustrates the meaningful impact OTC cough medicines have on American families’ daily lives:
  • 61 million consumers in the past 12 months have avoided missing work, school, or other scheduled appointments because they had access to OTC cough medicines to treat their symptoms (extrapolated from survey findings, based on census data).
  • 8.5 million households in the past 12 months have children ages four or older who have avoided missing school or daycare due to illness because their parents had access to OTC cough medicines to manage their symptoms (extrapolated from survey findings, based on census data).
“OTC cough medicines empower consumers to take control of their own healthcare, and offer families a vital option for cost-effective treatment that is available in real-time when illness strikes, especially during cough and cold season,” said Robert M. Goldberg, PhD, co-founder and vice president of CMPI. “This research is an indicator of what consumers want – they want convenient and affordable access to the medicines they trust to treat their symptoms – and their family members’ symptoms – and get them back to school or work without the hassle of having to see a doctor or take time off.”

The Cough Medicine Consumer Insights National Survey – a telephone survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults, 18 years and older – offers key insights into consumer preferences during cough and cold season, and revealed American parents and adult consumers rely on OTC cough medicines as a first line of defense to treat symptoms in both their children and themselves.

OTC cough medicines are relied-upon first response for American families

The new findings provide insight into the extent to which consumers rely upon OTC cough medicines for convenient relief. Two-thirds (66 percent) of U.S. adult consumers and nearly three-fourths (70 percent) of parents surveyed rely on OTC cough medicines to treat their own cough symptoms as well as their children’s. During this cold and flu season alone, when experiencing cough symptoms, OTC medicine is the first thing the majority of consumers turn to for relief. In fact, over the previous 12 months surveyed, more than half of adults (57 percent) reported taking OTC cough and cold medicines and 71 percent of parents had administered these medicines to their children over the age of four to alleviate symptoms.

Additional findings:
  • 77 percent of adult consumers agree that OTC medicines provide convenient treatments whenever symptoms arise.
  • 75 percent of adult consumers agree that OTC medicines provide relief of their cough symptoms so they can get a good night's rest.
  • 76 percent of parents believe these medicines provide relief of their children’s symptoms so they can get a good night’s rest.
Ongoing education addressing storage and monitoring of home OTCs is important

Consumers believe continued education is the most effective way to ensure appropriate OTC cough medicine use. The majority of adult consumers surveyed (87 percent) believe OTC cough medicine packages provide the necessary information to ensure appropriate use, and 85 percent said educating parents about the appropriate use and storage of medicines is the most effective way to ensure appropriate use.

While 94 percent of surveyed adults agreed that they “know what medicines are in my home and how much of each I have,” only 74 percent agreed that “medicines in my home are in a place where my children cannot access them” – pointing to the need for ongoing education about safe monitoring, storage and disposal of OTC medications in the home, particularly homes with young children and teenagers. Accidental ingestion of medicines by curious toddlers and young children drives thousands of emergency room visits a year, and 5 percent of teens report abusing cough medicines by ingesting large amounts to get a “high.” Research has shown that teens abuse cough medicine in part because it is accessible to them in home medicine cabinets.

In 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration convened an expert panel to discuss whether the active ingredient in most cough medicines, dextromethorphan (DXM), should be available prescription-only. The FDA panel voted against placing restrictions on DXM-containing cough medicines, and manufacturers of OTC cough medicines committed to continue funding cough abuse prevention-focused educational campaigns. In the Cough Medicine Consumer Insights survey, more than three-quarters of consumers agreed that a prescription requirement to access cough medicines would place a burden on them and their family and limit the care parents could provide to their children.

“Consumers recognize that continued education is one of the best ways to ensure these medicines are used appropriately. Purchasers of these products who have children at home should keep these – and all medicines – in a safe, secure place,” said CMPI’s Goldberg. “Ensuring convenient and affordable access to OTC medicines and educating on appropriate use are keys to empowering consumers and maintaining the health of American families. In today’s political environment crowded with contentious and complex health policy issues, adult access to cough medicines to treat themselves and their families need not be one of them.”

About The Study
The Cough Medicine Consumer Insights National Survey was conducted via telephone from December 9 –16, 2011, and involved 1,007 U.S. adults ages 18 years and over with a margin-of-error of 3.1 percent. The survey examined the value OTC cough medicines provide relative to potential alternatives, such as consultations with healthcare professionals for self-recognizable symptoms and/or prescription medicines. The survey was conducted by StrategyOne in partnership with the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest through a grant from the Consumer Healthcare Products Association.

About CMPI
The Center for Medicine in the Public Interest (CMPI) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational organization that seeks to advance the discussion and development of patient-centered health care.

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