25-Oct-12 8:00 AM  CST

USP Announces Universal Standards for Prescription Drugs to Encourage Patient Understanding

The United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) and the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) has announced new standards for a universal understanding to the format, appearance, content, and instructions for drugs in containers being dispensed by pharmacies across the U.S.  The focus is on ‘patient centered’ labels.        

The lack of these new standards for drug labeling may contribute to medication errors, patient’s non-adherence to taking their meds, and not understanding dosage instructions.  According to a recent press release by the USP, 46 percent of patients misunderstood one or more of their prescriptions printed on medication bottles.  Pharmacy Technicians should remember that patient health and safety come first and the new universal standards will help ensure both of these important aspects of understanding the workings of a pharmacy. 

 “Lack of universal standards for labeling on dispensed prescription containers is a root cause for patient misunderstanding, non-adherence, and medication errors,” said Joanne G. Schwartzberg, director of aging and community health for the American Medical Association, Member of the USP Nomenclature, Safety, and Labeling Expert Committee.  “With an aging and increasingly diverse population, and people utilizing a growing number of medications, the risks are more pronounced today than ever” said Schwartzberg.  Some highlights of the new USP standards are: 

· Emphasize instructions and other information important to patients. 
· Improve readability. 
· Give explicit instructions. 
· Include purpose for use. 
· Address limited English proficiency. 
· Address visual impairment. 

The final USP standards will be published in November 2012 and it will be up to each individual state Boards of Pharmacy (BOP) to adopt the standards into their regulations.   

1.  National Association of Boards of Pharmacy Reports.  “USP Releases First Universal Standards for Content and Appearance of Prescription Labels to Promote Patient Understanding.”  NABP.  Web.  17 Oct 2012.   

2.  Pierson, Francine.  “Pharmacies Across the Country Urged to Adopt ‘Patient-Centered’ Labels.  PR Newswire.  Web.  9 Oct 2012.   

For additional information on this article, please contact:
Jennifer S. O'Reilly
Source: NPTAnews  

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