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Raising awareness about the importance of taking medications properly


Amid concerns that a significant percentage of patients don't take prescription drugs as directed, the Food and Drug Administration, along with consumer and health-care organizations, are taking steps to increase public awareness about the importance of taking medications correctly. The Wall Street Journal reports:

As many as three in four Americans say they don't take prescription medicine as directed, according to the National Community Pharmacists Association.

The Food and Drug Administration is planning to test single-page consumer information sheets that would replace the multi-page package inserts and medication guides widely used in retail pharmacies. And the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention, which sets quality standards enforced by the FDA for the quality, strength and purity of medicines, is developing a new national standard for prescription labels, which can vary widely from pharmacy to pharmacy and befuddle consumers. The standards, if adopted, would require clear instructions on dose and timing and state in simple terms the purpose of the drug-such as "for high blood pressure"-unless the patient prefers that it not appear.

Doctors and pharmacists are also being encouraged to counsel patients more effectively about their medications. About 100 industry and nonprofit groups are participating in a national awareness campaign about the importance of taking medication as directed, to be launched in May by the National Consumers League.

The story goes on to explain how helping consumers better understand prescription labels could decrease emergency room visits and hospitalizations related to medication mishaps.

Photo by Brittany Culver

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