Healthcare: On the Agenda - Clearer labelling call for medication

In a nutshell

Healthcare experts have recommended that labels on medicine packaging are improved to make them easier for people to understand. Among the recommended changes, the wording 'avoid alcoholic drink' should be replaced with 'do not drink alcohol while taking this medicine'. The recommendations were made following research published in the British National Formulary, a joint publication of the British Medical Association and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

Why is it important?

The research was carried out by Professor Theo Raynor at the University of Leeds and colleagues at Luto Research. It raised concerns over non-compliance by patients with instructions on medicine and suggested that a key factor was misunderstanding instructions.

Proposals

The proposed changes include using terms that are better understood by patients. An example from the research showed that the word 'drowsiness' is not always understood and could be improved by using the phrase, 'this medicine may make you sleepy'.

PR strategy

The BNF is published by the BMJ Group, which produces a number of journals covering medical specialities. BMJ's in-house press team handled the media outreach for the story, sending a release to national and international media.

Media coverage

The story generated widespread coverage in print, online and broadcast media, including The Daily Telegraph (pages 1 and 10), BBC News online and ITN News online.

2m: Prescriptions issued every day in the UK

£7.20: Current prescription charge

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