US: New Standards Proposed for Prescription Drug Containers


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New Standards Proposed for Prescription Drug Containers

The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) has proposed new universal standards for content, language, format, and appearance of prescription drug labels. The standards-setting group wants to see simpler labels that are easy to read and less likely to be misunderstood. Industry experts say that nearly half of all patients misunderstand the dosage instructions on their prescriptions, and more than half do not comprehend the warnings on the labels. The standards proposed by USP call for providing labels in the patient's preferred language when possible, through high-quality translation tools. "The state of prescription drug labeling is not only poor, it is highly variable," says Dr. William H. Shrank, a leading researcher on prescription container labeling who served on the USP panel. "The largest items on labels are generally the pharmacy name, while warnings are written in a font too small for many elderly patients to read." Shrank believes that compliance and consistency from pharmacy to pharmacy will make the difference in patient comprehension and medication adherence. In addition to proposing that prescription labels be translated, USP recommends placing the most critical information—the patient's name, drug name, drug strength, and instructions—at the top of the label; simplifying language and eliminating Latin terms; providing explicit dosage instructions; formatting labels with large fonts, and using black print on a white background.

From "Prescription Drug Containers May Get Simpler Labels"
American Medical News (IL) (01/17/11) O'Reilly, Kevin B.

Source: ATA Newsbriefs - January 2011
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