Research Outline

OTC Painkiller Consumer Perceptions - Canada


To identify consumer perception of Over-The-Counter (OTC) painkillers in Canada and determine if the opioid crisis has affected the perceptions of Canadians on OTC painkillers.

Early Findings

  • According to a survey conducted in Canada, which had a response rate of 57.2%, the respondents agreed to using 2.7 different products within a 6-month duration. About 78.9% didn't experience any side effects of OTC painkillers. About 86.5% of the respondents said that they received advice to use OTC drugs from pharmacists. Citizens in Canada have a positive/healthy attitudes towards OTC painkillers and seek assistance from pharmacists.
  • Consumers in Canada are less "trusting of natural health products" and prefer OTC medications. This is attributed to the fact that natural health products are less regulated, vary in quality, and are less recommended by physicians.
  • Young consumers feel that OTC drugs are safe and don't see the risk of how the product is used; they believe they can take as much as they want for symptom relief. Canadians see OTC painkillers as "quick fixes" to pain.OTC painkillers are easily accessible and are advertised on media with no mention of side effects.
  • According to research, 60% of painkillers purchased by consumers in Canada are done OTC.
  • The sale of the Codeine OTC drug was limited in the wake of the opioid crisis in Canada. Codeine is an opiate used for cough treatment and as pain relievers. Codeine has been linked to abuse and dependency among consumers in Canada, as a widely used opioid. In 2015, around 600 million low-dose codeine tablets were sold across Canada.
  • Teenagers lead in buying OTC painkillers and prescriptions in Canada, mostly sedatives and antidepressants. Ease of access to medicine has promoted the increase in use for this demographic. In 2018, both in Alberta and Ontario, 1,752 teenagers under 19 years were involved in abusing OTC drugs, including aspirin, anti-inflammatories, non-opioids, and non-steroids.

Research Strategy

After conducting quick one-hour research, we were able to find some insights into the use of OTC medicine in Canada. However, information about consumer perceptions is limited. Therefore, we looked into consumer habits and provided some statistics. Through the quick search, we couldn't establish consumers' perception of OTC medicine after the opioid crisis in Canada.