The drug facts label: teach teens how to be "Medicine Smart"

Teens want information at their fingertips. The Drug Facts label on over-the-counter (OTC) medicines is just that—information at your fingertips to help you use medicines safely.

The Drug Facts label explains:

  • Active ingredients (the ingredients in the medicine that makes it work)
  • Uses
  • Warnings
  • Directions
  • Storage or other information
  • Inactive ingredients

The graphic below can show you how to read a label and the important elements that will help you use acetaminophen and other medicines safely. Simply touch/roll over each section of the drug facts label below to learn more about what each section tells you.

Over-the-Counter Label

Source: Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition:


Prescription Label

Source: Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition;

Explain to older teens the importance of checking the label when selecting a non-prescription (OTC) medicine and again each time before it’s used. The Drug Facts label will help them to:

  • decide if they have chosen the right medicine for their symptoms
  • understand the dosing instructions
  • be aware of any medicine warning that might apply to them

Reinforce with younger teens the importance of following the instructions about medicines from their parent or guardian.

Other resources or tools are available to help you help teens to be “Medicine Smart.”  These include:

  • the medicine information sheet included with every prescription
  • a pharmacist
  • reputable online resources on medicine safety,, for example

Remind teens that even though OTC medicines are readily available, it’s important to remember they are serious medicines that need to be taken with care.

When using a prescription medicine, teens should read and follow the written medicine information provided by the pharmacy and the healthcare professional’s instructions.