Awareness of Acetaminophen Safe Use Increasing

New Consumer Survey Shows Risk Awareness and Safe Use Knowledge is High, Reinforcing Importance of Ongoing Education to Drive Behavior Change

Washington, D.C. (February 25, 2014)New research released today reveals that when it comes to treating pain, a growing number of consumers know how to safely use medicines with acetaminophen and to avoid accidental overdose and liver damage. A nationwide consumer survey conducted by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) Educational Foundation, in conjunction with its work on the Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition’s Know Your Dose educational campaign, shows that consumer safe use knowledge and risk awareness has increased over a three year period (2010-2013).

Acetaminophen, the most common drug ingredient in America, is found in more than 600 prescription (Rx) and over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, fever reducers, and sleep aids as well as cough, cold, and allergy medicines. Acetaminophen is safe and effective when used as directed but there is a limit to how much can be taken in one day. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends taking no more than 4,000 mg of acetaminophen in a 24-hour period. Taking more than directed is an overdose and can lead to liver damage. 

Findings from the national survey of 1,000 consumers who have taken a pain reliever in the past 6-12 months show enhanced consumer knowledge and awareness of key medicine safety issues:

  • Label reading: More consumers agree that it is “important to check the label to find out the maximum daily dose” of medicines (increased to 98 percent in 2013 from 93 percent in 2010).
  • Following dosing instructions: More consumers agree it is “important not to exceed the dosing directions on the label” of pain relievers (increased to 96 percent in 2013 from 90 percent in 2010).
  • Awareness of risk: More consumers understand that “exceeding the recommended daily dose of acetaminophen may lead to liver damage” (increased to 87 percent in 2013 from 78 percent in 2010).
  • Avoidance of “doubling up:” Knowledge that “acetaminophen can be found in many over-the-counter and prescription pain medicines” increased to 87 percent from 80 percent in 2010, and understanding that “it is possible to exceed the maximum daily dose when taking an OTC acetaminophen product at the same time as a prescription pain medicine” increased to 81 percent from 76 percent in 2010.

The CHPA Educational Foundation co-founded and actively participates in the Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition (AAC) and its Know Your Dose campaign, which educates consumers to (1) always read and follow the medicine label, (2) know if their medicines contain acetaminophen,  (3) never take two medicines that contain acetaminophen at the same time and (4) ask a healthcare provider if you have questions. The Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition is a diverse group of leading health, healthcare provider, and consumer organizations. Since its launch in 2011, the ongoing campaign has generated more than 300 million consumer media impressions through the distribution of free educational materials, outreach activities supported by the Coalition’s 25+ members and partners, and targeted paid and earned media. Know Your Dose is one among many acetaminophen safe use and medicine safety educational campaigns launched in the past few years, which also include programs from FDA’s Safe Use Initiative, McNeil’s Get Relief Responsibly campaign, National Consumers League’s Life Smarts program, National Council on Patient Information and Education’s MUST for Seniors and more. 

“More than 50 million people use medicines containing acetaminophen each week to relieve pain. We are very encouraged to see more consumers today know how and why to follow the label and dosing directions when taking acetaminophen to ensure safe and appropriate use,” said Emily Skor, executive director of the CHPA Educational Foundation. “These research findings validate the importance of our ongoing consumer education initiatives. They will continue to serve as a benchmark for educational efforts as we find new ways to engage and educate consumers about the safe use of medicines.”

“Awareness is a critical step toward behavior change. These strides in consumer knowledge about the safe use of pain relievers and acetaminophen specifically are gratifying, and reinforce the need for continued education to ensure that knowledge translates into a reduction in acetaminophen-related liver damage,” said Anne Norman, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, a family nurse practitioner and associate vice president of education at the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, a founding organization of the AAC. “In my own practice, I’ve seen patients unknowingly take more than one medicine containing acetaminophen at the same time and exceed the recommended daily dose. That’s why ongoing education is so important – via healthcare providers, via pharmacists, via media and other channels. Reaching consumers at key points of relevancy and impact remain important as we continue to work together to drive safe medicine use.”

For more information on acetaminophen safe use, visit

Contact: Shelley Ducker, 202.429.3528

Survey Methodology
The survey was conducted by David Binder Research. A total of 1,000 surveys were completed with U.S. consumers. Data were collected using an online survey methodology between October 17 – 20, 2013. Successful participants had taken OTC pain medicine in the last 6 months or Rx pain medicine in the last 12 months. The margin of error for the study is +3.1 percent. 

The CHPA Educational Foundation is dedicated to being the trusted source of information on the responsible us, storage, and disposal of consumer healthcare products including over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements. The foundation is the education arm of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA).

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) is the 133-year-old trade association representing the leading manufacturers and marketers of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and dietary supplements. Every dollar spent by consumers on OTC medicines saves the U.S. healthcare system $6-$7, contributing a total of $102 billion in savings each year. CHPA is committed to promoting the increasingly vital role of over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements in America’s healthcare system through science, education, and advocacy. For more information, visit