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Study finds drug warning labels need overhaul to better capture attention, convey information
Date:7/5/2012

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Many patients seem to ignore prescription drug warning labels with instructions that are critical for safe and effective use, according to a study by a Kansas State University researcher working with scientists at Michigan State University.

Consumers, particularly older ones, often overlook prescription drug warning labels in part because the labels fail to attract attention, said Nora Bello, an assistant professor of statistics at Kansas State University. Bello helped investigate the effectiveness of prescription drug warning labels to convey drug information to patients. She and experts in packaging and psychology found that prescription drug warning labels fail to capture patients' attention, impairing the communication of important safety information. The research is published in PLoS ONE.

"These findings have implications for the design of prescription drug warning labels to improve their effectiveness, particularly as the U.S. government recently started to investigate approaches to standardize the format and content of these labels to decrease medication error rates," Bello said. "Results from this study can provide insight to assist debates about labeling designs that are most likely to impact a wide age range of consumers."

About 15 million medication errors occur each year in the United States, and most happen at home where patients are responsible for complying with medication regimes. Prescription warning labels are intended to serve as quick reminders of the most important instructions for safe and effective drug use to prevent injuries from medications. They can include, for example, warnings against accompanying use of the medication with alcohol or driving.

The findings show that older patients do not always pay attention to drug warning labels. The results are worrisome, Bello said, because this population is reportedly at a greater risk for dangerous medication errors given their us
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Contact: Nora Bello
nbello@k-state.edu
785-532-0523
Kansas State University
Source:Eurekalert

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