For anyone who has ever purchased a prescription from their local pharmacy, it should come as no surprise that a growing number of industry advocates as well as consumers are calling for a complete overhaul of labeling practices currently in effect.
It’s important to make the distinction here between the absence of information and difficulty reading or interpreting information placed on prescription labels. While the necessary reading material is always placed on prescriptions, critics say that the small print and confusing terminology employed on the label itself is to blame for countless dosage errors and potentially life-threatening circumstances.
When asked for her opinion on this issue, Susan Leat, a professor of optometry and vision science at the University of Waterloo, stated, “You have to remember many people are taking two or three medications or more even. Some are taking up to 15 different medications a day…They need to sort them out into ‘This one, I take two times, this one I take four times.”
While guidelines do currently exist regarding this particular issue, a substantial number of critics believe that revision is long overdue. According to recent studies, nearly 90% of national pharmacies currently adhere to a specific set of parameters regarding font type and font size. Were this specific piece of legislation to be changed, the positive effects would be quick and comprehensive.
The clarity needed on labels is not just a product of alterations to the font itself. A variety of experts agree that adding visible spaces between important facts and sentences will also help to ensure that users of these products are able to quickly and easily obtain the information they need for safe usage practices.
As could be expected, changes to pharmaceutical labels may be a slow process, particularly due to the extensive depth of the prescription industry and its integration in communities around the country. That being said, a “first step” must be taken eventually, and it appears that much-needed change may be just around the corner in this particular industry. It may only be a short period of time before we see the beginnings of labelling changes in pharmacies across the UK.
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