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Prescrire's annual drug packaging review: slow progress and dangers

The drug packaging market is improving, but there are also still many examples as of 2020 that pose a danger to patients, in particular children and pregnant women. These flaws affect prescribers, pharmacists and nurses through the complications they cause.

Prescrire examined the packaging quality of 173 medicinal products in 2019. Despite some improvement in recent years, albeit slow, there are still many drugs on the market with dangerous packaging. The pharmaceutical industry seems unaware of a range of long-known and easily avoidable packaging flaws.

The French Health Products Agency (ANSM) is having a hard time getting pharmaceutical companies to follow its guidelines on the selection of proprietary names, labelling and safer dosing devices.

Year after year, old products, only authorised at the French level, account for a large proportion of the flaws and dangers identified in our packaging analyses, with the self-medication sector being a particular offender. Marketing authorisation procedures involving the European Medicines Agency (EMA) led to some advances in drug packaging, but weaknesses persist, particularly with regard to the safety of children.

 > PHOTOS  Illustrated examples from Prescrire's annual packaging review

Patients are benefiting from improvements to patient leaflets thanks to the European framework but, in 2020, health authorities urgently need to improve and harmonise the information provided on the risks drugs pose during pregnancy.

Healthcare professionals are at the forefront in preventing packaging-related errors, and in identifying and reporting packaging flaws, in order to protect patients

©Prescrire 1 July 2020

Source: "2019 drug packaging review: slow progress and dangers" Prescrire International 2020; 29 (217): 191-195. Free.

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For more information:

"Ilustrated examples of
dangerous drug packaging,
from Prescrire's annual
packaging review"
(July 2020)

See also:

Drug packaging and
patient safety
Advancing healthcare policy

"The Prescrire Drug
Packaging Awards for 2019"
(February 2020)

Read more:

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