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National Campaign to Help Older Americans Manage Medicines

Published April 2, 2007

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Consumer Health Education Center Launches National Campaign to Help Older Americans Manage Medicines

April 2nd, 2007, Washington, D.C. – The Consumer Health Education Center (CHEC) is launching a national education campaign to help mature Americans better manage their health, specifically regarding the over-the-counter (OTC) medicines they take. There are more than 100,000 over-the-counter medicines on the market today and those aged 60 and over use more than one third of all OTCs purchased.

“The goal of CHEC’s outreach efforts is to help older consumers maintain their health by giving them the information they need to safely and responsibly use their medications,” says Linda Sudyam, D.P.A., president of CHEC. CHEC’s campaign includes seminars across the country, each of which features a local pharmacist to answer questions and provide simple tips for the safe use of OTC medicines. “All consumers need to play an active role in all their personal healthcare decisions, which includes becoming informed about their medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.”

According to a recent survey sponsored by CHEC and the not-for-profit Alliance for Aging Research, 30 percent of older Americans use two to four OTC medicines in a given month. In addition, they also take an average three prescription medications each month. The study of 1,000 60- to 75-year-olds also found that nearly two out of every three seniors are confident that they understand the Drug Facts label on OTC medicines. And while almost 80 percent say they are very likely to follow the recommended dose, some do not pay attention to the active ingredients in their medicines. “This is very concerning, especially given the number of medicines this age group takes,” says Suydam. “Often times, different medicines contain the same active ingredients, and taking too much of an active ingredient can cause side effects.”

“Taking several medications at one time can increase a person’s risk for unwanted reactions,” says Daniel Perry, executive director of the Alliance for Aging Research. “It is important that consumers know how to read their medicine labels and that they consult a healthcare professional with any questions they may have regarding any of their medications and possible interactions.”

Suydam adds that all consumers should follow seven simple steps to ensure they are taking OTCs safely and appropriately.

  • Always read and follow the Drug Facts label.
  • Never take more than one medicine with the same active ingredient unless instructed by a doctor.
  • Choose products that only treat the symptoms you have.
  • Talk to a doctor if taking an OTC becomes more than a temporary practice or if symptoms do not go away.
  • Create a list of all the medicines you take and share your list with your healthcare professionals.
  • Tell your healthcare professional about your full medical history and diet.
  • Bring any questions you have to your healthcare professional, such as your doctor, nurse, nurse practitioner, or pharmacist.

CHEC is scheduled to visit several cities over the year and will make all materials available at so that senior centers may download the presentation for use with their guests and visitors.

For a complete copy of the survey, please contact Kim Atwood at 212-537-8143.

Survey Methodology
The survey was conducted by Opinion Research among 1,001 adults comprising 480 men and 521 women 60-75 years of age from January 24 to February 12, 2007.

Founded in 1986, the Alliance for Aging Research is a not for profit, independent organization dedicated to improving the health and independence of aging Americans through public and private funding of medical research and geriatric education. The Alliance combines the interests of top scientists, public officials, business executives and foundation leaders to promote a greater national investment in research and new technologies that will prepare our nation for the coming senior boom, and improve the quality of life for today’s older generation.

The Consumer Health Education Center (CHEC) is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of Americans through appropriate, safe, and effective over-the-counter medicine use. CHEC was launched in 2005 as the consumer education arm of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a member-based organization representing the leading manufacturers and distributors of OTC medicines and nutritional supplements in the United States. CHEC is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization.

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