COVID pandemic heightens a lack of confidence amongst the public about which medicines to take and how to use them

NYON, Switzerland — Today sees the launch of Let’s treat it right, a major new health education campaign designed to bridge a knowledge gap and unlock health benefits for millions of people2. The campaign aims to support the responsible use of everyday medicines such as dosing advice for individuals or family members including children and the elderly, as part of self-care and family care regimes.

With more people now treating themselves at home, increasing numbers have questions and concerns when it comes to using over the counter medicines the right way. The issue was highlighted by a recent study supported by GSK2 which revealed that 80% of Europeans accept that it is their responsibility to manage their own health and are willing to do so,3 yet only two in ten feel confident to actually do this.3 Supporting this, in the past two years, searches for ‘self-care’ and ‘treat at home’ have risen by 33% and 58% respectively1, highlighting the need for improved patient resources regarding health self-management.

One area of health that is particularly in focus is the management of pain. According to The Global Pain Index, over three quarters (77%) of people asked wished they could control their pain better.4 Back pain and shoulder pain are also among the top three most common causes of virtual doctor visits.5 But, confusion about the responsible use of medicines extends beyond pain to all areas of everyday health and improved public understanding could reduce the burden on health systems, for example in helping to manage the number of doctor visits.2 As a direct result of the pandemic, positive change is already being seen in this area of self-care with almost half of Europeans (41%) planning to consult their pharmacists more often6, rather than wait for a doctor’s appointment.

At launch, Let’s treat it right is focussed on the responsible use of pain medicines with the vision to extend to other areas of everyday health over the next year. Pain is one of the most common medical areas in which people seek information about ways to self-manage with medication. The campaign, supported by the makers of trusted healthcare brands Panadol and Voltaren, aims to provide clear and practical advice to the public about the right use of pain medicines, including individual needs, how much is right to take, and how to dispose of and store their pain medication safely and correctly.

The campaign contains information on four key topics – The Right Need, The Right Dose, The Right Storage and The Right Disposal – available on the website and to be shared on social media channels.

As well as supporting the public, Let’s treat it right is also intended as a resource for health experts on the frontline, the millions of pharmacists and doctors who prescribe and support responsible medicines’ use for patients and customers.

Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and Clinical Director of says, “As a GP, I get many questions about the right way to use everyday medicines that are available over the counter. You can find a lot of information online, but it is not always easy to know which sources to trust. That is why I welcome the launch of initiatives like Let’s Treat it Right. The campaign provides people with trusted information and advice, for example answering the concerns of parents who have questions about medicine dosage for their children, and elderly patients who are taking medicines for other health conditions. This will allow people to better manage their pain themselves and do so in a responsible manner. I believe that this approach to pain management will help to relieve pressure on healthcare systems and have a positive impact on society globally.”

Lars-Åke Söderlund, Executive Committee Member, the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), commented: “The COVID-19 pandemic has led to more people taking responsibility for managing their own health and seeking information in order to do so. Pharmacists, as trusted healthcare professionals who are most accessible to the public, are the first (and often preferred) source of reliable, evidence-based advice and care. Seeking support from pharmacists on over-the-counter pain management is highly beneficial and recommended.”

Theresa Agnew, Global Head of Pain Relief Category at GSK Consumer Healthcare said: “Accelerated by the global pandemic, we find ourselves in charge of our health and wellbeing like never before. We want to empower and support consumers when it comes to the responsible use of medicines and support the millions of pharmacists and doctors in their crucial role in this. We need to bridge the knowledge gap and rolling out the Let’s treat it right campaign is an important step towards achieving that.”


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