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Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and PracticeExploring Public Knowledge and Perceptions Regarding per os OTC Pain-relieving Medications: The Case of Paracetamol (acetaminophen)

Study exposes the lack of education on critical aspects such as indications, potential side effects, maximum daily dose, alcohol consumption, and potential risks of hepatotoxicity.

The study delves into the understanding and perceptions surrounding the usage of over-the-counter (OTC) pain-relieving medications, focusing on paracetamol in the Republic of Cyprus. The researchers aimed to explore how well-known various forms of the compound are, and if the public knowledge aligns with safe and appropriate usage.

Study Design:

  • Type of Study: Cross-sectional study using quantitative research methods.
  • Participants: Individuals visiting community pharmacies in Nicosia, Limassol, and Larnaca in the Republic of Cyprus.
  • Methodology: Participants voluntarily responded to a survey-based questionnaire about their knowledge and views on paracetamol use, with statistical analysis of the tabulated data.

Key Findings:

  • Knowledge Gap: Original paracetamol is better recognized than generics; notable percentages answered incorrectly about NSAIDs containing paracetamol.
  • Misunderstandings About Composition: 71.5% and 50.3% falsely believed that certain combination products did not contain paracetamol.
  • Perceptions of Toxicity: 27.6% believed that paracetamol causes low toxicity.
  • Alcohol Consumption: 40.2% consume alcohol together with or shortly after paracetamol; a linked attitude towards consuming paracetamol after drinking alcohol (OR 0.100, 95% CI 0.044–0.225, p = 0.000).


  • The study illuminates a significant public health concern in the Republic of Cyprus, revealing frequent misunderstandings about NSAIDs and paracetamol-containing medications.
  • It highlights an urgent need for education about the safe and effective use of paracetamol, including proper indications, potential side effects, dosage guidelines, alcohol consumption, and risks of hepatotoxicity. It also calls for appropriate measures by the respective Authorities of Cyprus to address this knowledge gap.

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Did You Know?
According to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, over-the-counter (OTC) medicines are used by approximately 81% of adults in the United States to manage minor ailments.

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