Protecting consumers from medication errors is a serious issue in this nation. While most people relate prescription mistakes with pharmacies and doctors, there is another group to add to the equation—drug manufacturers. Unfortunately, the way pharmaceutical companies labeled and packaged drugs was found to be confusing. In fact, the poor design of medication labels caused many errors at the pharmacy level and on the home front.
As a result, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued new guidelines over a year ago requesting drug manufacturers to have better packaging. In return, many drug manufacturers improved the way their drugs were packaged and labeled. Some of the changes include:
- Safety information on labels is prioritized
- Similar designs among different products is being avoided
- Drug strengths information is now standardized
Before these changes occurred, safety information was being obscured on medication labels. According to the Institute of Safe Medication Practices (ISMP), 33 percent of all medication errors were caused from confusing labels and packaging and problematic drug names. Now, efforts have been made by manufacturers to improve drug packaging and labels in order to prevent more drug errors in this nation.
However, not every manufacturer has made changes to comply with the FDA’s new guidelines regarding medication packaging and labels. Unfortunately, there are still drugs on the market will poor labeling and faulty packaging that can cause many problems. In fact, some companies offer different medications in similar packages, which can cause confusion behind the pharmacy counter.
In order to reduce the risk of medication error, pharmacies should find a different drug maker that has a more distinctive container, and drug manufacturers should avoid making drugs with similar packaging. In order to reduce medication errors, more manufacturers need to be willing to be proactive and test and evaluate their drug packages prior to putting them on the market.
Until then, consumers still need to be careful and read their medications carefully, especially the small letters written on labels. In particular, elderly patients need to be especially cautious about the medications they take because they typically take multiple drugs and have a harder time reading fine print. This is why it is critical that all patients take advantage of pharmacy consultations.
By taking a few minutes out of your day to consult with a pharmacist, you may help prevent a medication error from occurring—saving you from injuries and even death. To find out more about preventing medication mistakes, we invite you to browse through our online resources or sign-up to follow us on Twitter or Facebook.