Partnership Combats OTC Abuse

WASHINGTON In a public service campaign released today, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America warns parents that teens are getting high from prescription and over-the-counter medicines commonly found in their own homes.

The television, print, radio and Internet appeal features messages based on findings from the nonprofit group’s 2005 attitude survey, which found that teens think abusing common household medicines is safer than using illegal drugs.

In one spot called “Hood,” crafted by Grey in New York, a car with tinted windows is seen driving through a suburban setting as the announcer says a new kind of drug abuse is creeping into neighborhoods. “So, who’s supplying your kids?” asks a voiceover. “You are.” The car window rolls down, revealing a mother returning home with groceries. When the mother’s back is turned, her daughter takes a bottle of pills.

In a second spot, created by DDB in Chicago, parents are quizzed about their knowledge of dextromethorphan, the active ingredient in cold medicine. “Could you pass this drug test?” an announcer asks as viewers watch a series of multiple-choice answers given to answer the question “DXM is . . .”

“The message of this campaign can be summed up in three words: educate, communicate and safeguard,” said partnership president and CEO Steve Pasierb. “Educate yourself about the medications kids are abusing. Communicate with your kids and dispel the notion . . . that these medicines can be safely abused. And safeguard your medications by learning which ones can be abused, limit access to them and keep track of the quantities you have in your home.”

Grey evp and executive creative director Mark Schwatka said the problem is not even on parents’ radar screens. “This campaign has been designated to not only create awareness of the dangers of abusing prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications, but also to start a much-needed dialogue between parents and teens,” he said.

Comcast will donate about $3 million in media time. The campaign also features a Spanish-language component.