Consumers' expectations of over-the-counter medicine : location of sale
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Over-the counter (OTC) medicines are used commonly for treating minor illnesses. Even though most Canadians believe that OTC medicines are safe and effective, they can pose some risk through side effects and interactions if people do not take them with due care. With notable exceptions, people in Canada can purchase OTC medicines from pharmacies or non-pharmacy outlets such as convenience stores. Global trends in medicine-related legislation are leading to more of these products ending up in retail outlets other than pharmacies. Therefore, understanding public attitudes involving OTC medicine is becoming more and more important. Public expectations of OTC medicines in relation to location of sale were investigated in this study. It was hypothesized that the product buying public would perceive medicines differently based on where they are sold. Adult Saskatoon residents over 18 years old (n = 2547) were randomly selected from a telephone registry. Advance letters were initially mailed to them, followed by a ten page questionnaire and two reminder letters. Non-response letters were only sent to subjects who did not reply after two reminders. Subjects were asked to indicate what attributes (effectiveness, safety, potency, side effect propensity, price, etc.) they would expect from OTC medicines depending on where they were purchased – pharmacies versus convenience stores. The usable response rate was 57.5 percent. Almost every participant (96.1 percent) had bought OTC medicines from pharmacies. Most respondents (80.7 percent) were aware that OTC medicines could be purchased in convenience stores; however, only 42.2 percent of respondents had purchased OTC medicines from such locations. Significantly different expectations for the two locations were seen for product variety and quality, price, and ability to get help. Pharmacies should have a better selection of products and be of better quality than these OTC medicines sold in convenience stores. Public expectations for OTC product potency, safety, effectiveness, propensity for side effects, and package information did not differ across locations. The findings of this study suggest that location of sale has minimal effect on Saskatoon residents’ expectations of OTC medicines along clinical attributes. Saskatoon residents also appear to have healthy attitudes regarding OTC medicines and realize care is needed during their use. This may have implications in how people use such products after they are purchased and may be important for how they are scheduled for the Canadian marketplace.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
SupervisorTaylor, Jeff G.
CommitteeSuveges, Linda; Remillard, Alfred J. (Fred); Dobson, Roy T.
Copyright DateAugust 2006