An examination of the risk management issues in the handling at home of over-the-counter medicines purchased for children

Sharon Conway, Jacqueline Collier, N Birchley, K Niel, S Rodgers, J McIntyre, I Choonara, A Avery

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: To examine how over-the-counter medicines for children are handled in the home and identify any potential risks associated with their use. Design: Self-report questionnaire survey. Subjects and Setting: Parents of children under the age of 12 years from three general practices in the East Midlands area of the UK. Outcome Measures: Identification of risks in parental choice, administration, source of purchase, storage and disposal of over-the-counter medicines for children. Results: 21% of children's OTC medicines are purchased from non-pharmacy outlets. 93% of parents believe they store OTC medicines safely despite storage in inappropriate places. The risk of dental caries from sugar in medicines seems to be appreciated by most parents as this is the least favoured additive. 11% of parents use an inappropriate measuring device. Paracetamol is administered more frequently than every four hours by 12% of parents, and 4% exceed the maximum recommended number of daily doses. Most keep their children's medicines until they are needed again, significant numbers dispose of them in the dustbin, and only 5% return them to a pharmacy for disposal. Conclusions: A number of risk areas in parental use of OTC medicines for their children have been identified. An important role for the pharmacist is suggested in educating parental choice, dosing, administration, safe storage and disposal of children's OTC medicines. The pharmacist has a responsibility to take steps to minimise risks and ensure safe and effective use of medicines in children.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-213
Number of pages5
JournalPharmaceutical Journal
Issue number7262
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2003

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