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System of Simplified, Standardized Dosing Instructions for Prescription Medication Container Labels Proposed at Sixth Annual National Health Communication Conference
Date:11/28/2007

Potential solution developed in response to evidence-based recommendations

in ACP Foundation white paper on improving drug labels

PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- You have just been prescribed a new medication by your doctor and the container label says: "take one tablet by mouth twice daily for 7 days." How much and how often should you take your medicine? This might be easy for you to answer, but 46 percent of adults misunderstand at least one prescription container label, according to a 2006 study published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Ninety million Americans -- about half of the adult population -- suffer from low health literacy. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) defines health literacy as the degree to which individuals can obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services they need to make appropriate health decisions.

At today's Sixth Annual National Health Communication Conference co- sponsored by the American College of Physicians Foundation (ACPF) and IOM, Alastair J.J. Wood, MD, FACP, proposed an evidence-based system of simplified, standardized dosing instructions for prescription medication container labels.

Dr. Wood, a member of the ACPF Medication Labeling Technical Advisory Board, called for a Universal Medication Schedule (UMS) that standardizes prescription medication dosing times on drug container labels so that patients are told to take their medicine at the same four times per day, such as breakfast, lunch, dinner, and bedtime. The UMS would replace the current practice which either instructs patients to take the medicine a specific number of times per day or at specific time intervals.

"The benefits of the UMS include use of the same dosing schedule by patients, physicians, and pharmacists; reduced variability in how the medication is prescribed; reduced variability in how the prescription is interpreted by the pharmacist; improved ability of patients to understand
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SOURCE The American College of Physicians Foundation
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