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Over-The-Counter (OTC) Medicine Safety Program



  • Over 20,000 kids per year need medical help due to medicine mistakes or misuse.
  • Misuse of any medicine is dangerous, whether it is a prescription or an OTC medicine.
  • Only 54% of tweens know OTC medicine can be dangerous when misused


Research shows that students begin to self-medicate around the age of 11.

Our pre-teens and tweens seem to be growing up right in front of our eyes. With these changes comes increased independence and responsibility in school, at home, and with their health. One important topic to discuss with your tween is medicine safety. Research shows that students begin to self-medicate around age 11. If not equipped with the knowledge and training to make safe choices, mistakes can happen.

If you are a parent, teacher, school nurse, or caregiver of tweens, there is a great education program to facilitate this training called the OTC Medicine Safety Program. It is geared toward 5th and 6th graders and is a free, evidence-based, common-core ready program that teaches about safe use of OTC medicines.  Several learning outcomes are discussed including:

  • Identify the differences between prescription and OTC medicines.
  • Understand the importance of the Drug Facts label and be able to   identify its different sections.
  • Understand safe storage locations for OTC medicines.
  • Understand that using OTC medicines irresponsibly can cause harm.
  • Recognize unsafe situations involving OTC medicines and brainstorm solutions using problem-solving skills.
  • Identify the Poison Help number (1-800-222-1222) and understand that this free resource is available to support safe medicine use.

Check out the program for free at:

There are online tools for four main groups: Teachers, Healthcare Professionals, Families, and Community Leaders. Each section has lessons, activities, videos, and interactive games that follow the learning objectives.

Teachers may choose to use the five lessons as part of their health or science class. Parents may wish to use sections of the newsletter as talking points with their tween on safe medicine use.  School nurses may use the Drug Facts label poster as part of a teaching session or event booth. Community leaders and coalitions may tailor the resources for education to tweens in an after-school program. The possibilities are endless with this free educational program!

If you have questions about this program or wish to speak with the Missouri Poison Center about application of this program for your tweens, please call our Community Outreach Coordinator at (314)612-5719.

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