Plain language drugs labelling approved in Canada

08th July 2014 - Fine Cut

Drug packaging in Canada is set to become easier to understand, thanks to new legislation introduced by the country's government.

On July 2nd, the Canada Gazette, Part II published the Regulations Amending the Food and Drug Regulations (Labelling, Packaging and Brand Names of Drugs for Human Use) as part of the Plain Language Labelling Initiative.

Their overall aim is to make drug use safer by ensuring pharmaceutical packaging isn't as difficult for the average consumer to digest. 

Among the measures that will move towards achieving this aim are the introduction of "clear, understandable labelling", a standardised format for non-prescription labels that will help people to find important information and contact details to enable users to report any adverse reactions or problems that have been experienced.

In addition to this, manufacturers will be required to provide mock-ups of future packaging, which will be reviewed by Health Canada. 

Finally, "Look Alike - Sound Alike" provisions will be put in place, with organisations having to provide evidence that their products will not be easily confused with other offerings already on the market.

Canadian minister of health Rona Ambrose said: "I am personally committed to improving safety for Canadians every day, by making drugs safer and also making it easier for people to use them properly. 

"Providing Canadians with clear, understandable and credible information about the potential risks and appropriate use of drugs is one of the most valuable safety tools."

The programme has already received positive feedback, with Oakville member of parliament Terence Young suggesting it will save lives and reduce the overall incidence of serious adverse drug reactions.

It is intended the regulations will be gradually introduced, with one of the main advantages of this approach being that the organisations affected will not be required to immediately incur the significant costs often associated with mass labelling amendments.

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