Consumers Rely on OTC Cough Medicines to Stay Productive at Work, School

CHPA Statement on Center for Medicine in the Public Interest Study

Washington, D.C. (February 17, 2012)—The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) today released the following statement regarding a new survey from the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest (CMPI) finding 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. CMPI’s Cough Medicine Consumer Insights national survey found that 68 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 CMPI survey tells us that adults and parents rely on OTC medicine as a first response to treating coughs.  Even when suffering from cough, consumers can conveniently treat symptoms, stay productive at work or school and get a good night’s rest,” said CHPA President and CEO Scott M. Melville. “CHPA will continue to invest in educational campaigns to ensure consumers are responsibly using these medicines, informed about appropriate dosage and maintaining safe home storage.”  

The survey illustrates consumers’ reliance upon OTC cough medicines as a first-response to relieve cough symptoms for themselves and their children to go about their 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 U.S. 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).
  • Two-thirds (66 percent) of surveyed adults and 70 percent of surveyed parents rely on OTC cough medicines to treat their own and their children’s symptoms.
  • If using OTC cough medicines required a prescription, 78 percent of consumers believe that it would place a burden on them and their family because they would need to visit a doctor.

The survey was conducted by StrategyOne in partnership with CMPI through a grant from CHPA.

Contact: Shelley Ducker, 202-429-9260


CHPA is the 131-year-old-trade association representing U.S. manufacturers and distributors of over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements.