USP recommends prescription labeling be standardized

ROCKVILLE, Md. An advisory panel of the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention has recommended standardizing prescription labeling so patients can more easily understand the instructions, USP said.

USP, a nonprofit organization that sets standards for the identity, strength, quality and purity of medicines in the United States, cited Institute of Medicine statistics indicating that limited health literacy affects 90 million adults, thus reducing their ability to benefit from the healthcare system.

“Patients have the right to understand health information that is necessary to safely care for themselves and their families,” USP Health Literacy Prescription Container Labeling Advisory Panel co-chairwoman Joanne Schwartzberg said. “Confusing medication labels is one area that can be improved considerably. As most of us who have ever received a prescription drug know, the contact and appearance of medication labels can vary widely.”

Recommendations included simplifying language on labels by eliminating unfamiliar terms and unclear medical jargon, using explicit language to describe dosing and interval instructions and improving readability by using clearer fonts.

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