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IOM, U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention seek to improve label literacy

BY DSN STAFF

ROCKVILLE, Md. —A lot of factors hinder people’s ability to fully benefit from health care, but one of them is limited health literacy, which affects nearly one-third of the U.S. population, according to the Institute of Medicine.

One problem that results is that many adults have difficulty understanding the instructions that come with their medications and information about such issues as drug interactions, but the IOM and an organization that helps determine standards for medicines in the United States have collaborated to address the issue.

An advisory panel formed by the United States Pharmacopeial Convention, a nonprofit group that sets standards for a medication’s identity, strength, quality and purity, responded to IOM’s call for better medication instructions by developing a set of recommendations for prescription drug labels.

“Patients have the right to understand health information that is necessary to safely care for themselves and their families,” USP Health Literacy and Prescription Container Labeling Advisory Panel co-chair-woman 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 content and appearance of medication labels can vary widely. Sometimes, there is so much information included that it can be difficult to find the most essential information: the directions for use.”

Recommendations of the panel include simplifying language, using only common terms and sentences, and eliminating medical jargon and Latin words; organizing the label in a way that reflects the way patients read labels; improving readability through the use of 12-point, sans-serif fonts, such as Arial, and using complete sentences; translating labels into patients’ preferred languages; standardizing directions; and using explicit text for dosage and interval instructions.

In addition to USP’s efforts, some companies have taken the initiative to improve health literacy as well. Tri State Distribution, based in Sparta, Tenn., recently launched TriMaxx, a line of medication containers that provide an easy-to-read labeling format, as well as a triangular shape designed to make them easier to hold and use.

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NACDS puts a new spin on Meet the Market

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN DIEGO This year the National Association of Chain Drug Stores introduced two new features to its Meet the Market format. First, NACDS hosted a Meet the Market Presentation Template webinar twice prior to Meet the Market, in which NACDS introduced a meeting template that succinctly captured all of the information retailers typically use to evaluate a new product or company.

Also new to Meet the Market were the booths of 10 service companies — trade media and professional education, merchandising consultants and marketing/media information companies — which afforded an opportunity for new and smaller suppliers to meet with these organizations.

“New companies have a need not only to meet with retailers, obviously, they have a need for their business,” noted Jim Whitman, NACDS SVP meetings and conferences. Another ongoing improvement is the productivity within each meeting, Whitman added. “We keep refining the match, the appointments,” he said.

This year, the Meet the Market format — in which smaller and new suppliers have 10-minute meetings with their category buyers — represented more than 8,000 face-to-face pre-arranged appointments.

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Retail clinic growth slowing down? Not a chance

BY Antoinette Alexander

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT The news that Target is looking to expand its retail-based clinic business this year is yet one more indicator that reports of the demise of retail clinic growth have been greatly exaggerated.

(THE NEWS: Target to expand its retail clinic presence. For the full story, click here)

As the article states, Target, which opened its first clinic in 2006, is looking to open up eight new locations this September. It already operates 28 locations in Minnesota and Maryland.

It wasn’t so long ago — April to be exact — that CVS Caremark’s MinuteClinic indicated that it could double its current number of clinics in five years.

Why the growth? Well, aside from the aging population and a shortage of primary care physicians, a major catalyst is healthcare reform, which will mean that 32 million people who currently are uninsured will have healthcare coverage. With emergency rooms already overflowing, and primary care physicians already over-extended, having a retail clinic nearby where patients can receive convenient, quality and affordable health care will only become increasingly important.

Meanwhile, RediClinic, which has 22 clinics in H-E-B stores in Houston and Austin, Texas, is cranking up its marketing efforts and has tapped former Duane Reade executive Jeff Thompson as VP marketing. Thompson will be responsible for RediClinic’s consumer and partner marketing activities, including developing and implementing strategic customer acquisition/retention programs, new product delivery and brand strategy.

Thompson most recently served as VP marketing for Duane Reade.

Clearly, there continues to be significant growth opportunities for clinics — both in terms of the number of clinic locations and the scope of services offered within the clinics. As mentioned earlier, there are 32 million reasons why the growth will be quite dramatic.

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