Utilizing Celebrity Endorsements to Teach Over-the-Counter Medication and Dietary Supplement Regulations

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Background and purpose: Celebrity endorsements have a profound impact on consumers’ purchases and lifestyles. Pharmacists and student pharmacists must be aware of celebrity endorsements of over-the-counter (OTC) medications and dietary supplements to properly advise patients regarding safety and effectiveness, or lack thereof, of endorsed products. Educational activity and setting: An application-based activity was utilized in a self-care course to apply OTC medication and dietary supplement regulations to celebrity endorsements of these products. Students were asked to identify a celebrity endorsement of a product, providing: (1) the product endorsed, (2) celebrity endorser, (3) location of the endorsement, (4) summary of the endorsement and the endorsement itself, (5) assess if the endorsement violated any regulations, and (6) assess if the endorsement was in disagreement with evidence-based resources. Findings: Student pharmacists concluded that 30% of celebrity endorsements violated laws and regulations while 35% concluded the claims made were not supported by evidence-based literature. Interestingly, student pharmacists who selected the same endorsements did not always arrive at the same conclusions. Studied endorsements were frequently found to be in violation of laws and regulations governing OTC medications and dietary supplements and frequently were not supported by evidence-based literature. The activity described provides an innovative active-learning strategy to teach laws and regulations affecting OTC medications and dietary supplements.