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'Use only as directed' isn't easy

The Wall Street Journal, April 26, 2011

A new push is under way to make prescription drug information clearer and stem the rise in emergency room visits and hospitalizations resulting from patients incorrectly taking their medicine. 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.

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