english.prescrire.org > Spotlight > Archives : 2011 > Drug packaging: an important factor in the choice of treatment

Spotlight: Archives

Every month, the subjects in Prescrire’s Spotlight.

2011 : 1 | 30 | 60

Drug packaging: an important factor in the choice of treatment

A drug’s packaging – including the box, the dosing device and the patient information leaflet – is a key factor in its harm-benefit balance.

A drug’s packaging comprises all the material elements (box, etc.) designed to protect the drug throughout its lifetime. The packaging is also an important vehicle for patient information, the quality of which is essential for the correct use of the drug. Poorly designed packaging can have serious consequences for patients.

The box is the main  vehicle  for information. The box must specify the substances contained in the drug, designated by their international nonproprietary name (INN), the dose, the means of administration, storage conditions, etc. On French boxes, pictograms indicate risks associated with operating a vehicle, as required by law.

Inside the box, the blister packs, bottles and sachets must carry certain information such as the name of the substance and the dosage. This primary packaging, which is in direct contact with the drug, serves to protect against damage, against light and variations in temperature, and must be childproof (safety cap or safety pack).

The patient leaflet has a role to play in preventing handling errors and in informing patients of adverse effects, drugs interactions and storage conditions.

Drug packaging should allow the medication to be used by anyone (patients unable to read or suffering from visual impairment, for example), of any age (childproof, easy-to-use for elderly patients), and should carry any essential warnings (driving, pregnancy).

©Prescrire 1 October 2011

"Drug packaging. A key factor to be taken into account when choosing a treatment" Prescrire Int 2011; 20 (116): 247-249. (pdf, subscribers only)

Download the full review.
Pdf, subscribers only

See also:

Prescrire's annual review
of drug packaging in 2010

The 2010 Prescrire
Packaging Awards