Monday, January 17, 2011

Prescription Drug Containers May Get Simpler Labels... American Medical News

Pharmacy Rx symbolImage via Wikipedia
By Kevin B. O'Reilly, amednews staff

Nearly half of patients misunderstand dosage instructions on prescription container labels, and more than half do not comprehend the warnings on those labels, according to different studies. For years, medical experts have advocated for simpler labels to help patients take their medications as intended.

Labeling standards proposed in January by the influential U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention could make those recommendations a reality.

USP's proposal says that, when creating prescription labels, pharmacies should:
  • Emphasize the most important information at the top, such as the patient's name, drug name, drug strength and instructions.
  • Steer clear of Latin terms; use simple, concise language; and make instructions more explicit. For example, labels should say "Take 2 tablets in the morning and in the evening," instead of "Take two tablets twice daily."
  • Format labels with a large font size, the equivalent of 12-point Times New Roman or bigger, and use black print on a white background.
  • Use normal punctuation, provide enough white space between lines of text and have text run only horizontally on the label.
In addition, the proposed standards say pharmacies should include the medication's purpose, with patient permission, using familiar terms -- "for high blood pressure," not "for hypertension." Labeling should be provided in the patient's preferred language when possible, using high-quality translation tools.
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