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Prescrire's annual review of drug packaging: progress is too slow

A drug's packaging contains a set of components for use by patients, their caregivers and healthcare professionals. It is important that packaging is well designed with a view to ease of use and the prevention of errors with dangerous consequences.
Full article (4 page) available for download (free)

Prescrire examined the packaging of 190 medicinal products in 2022. Yet again, a few welcome advances were identified, but so were numerous flaws.

A number of products were properly labelled and their safety improved by giving due prominence to the international nonproprietary name (INN), and by ensuring that different dose strengths are readily distinguishable.

A few improvements in terms of convenience were noted, such as ready-to-use forms of injectable drugs, or solid oral forms packaged in precut unit-dose blister packs. However, too many drugs are still marketed in multidose bulk bottles.

Some packaging known for its potential to cause errors was partially rectified, while other flaws persisted.

The market introduction of a generic version of an existing product provides an opportunity to make the drug available in packaging that is safer and more convenient to use. These opportunities were too rarely seized in 2022, however.

Packaging and covid-19: leniency no longer justified!

In 2020, the unfolding public health crisis necessitated an urgent response and a need to rapidly produce and market covid-19 vaccines and treatments. This haste led to flawed packaging design, and in turn errors.

In late September 2020, the European Commission decided to temporarily relax the regulatory requirements for the packaging of future covid-19 vaccines. These exemptions applied in particular to the labelling of boxes and vials, and the patient leaflet. Although the labelling of covid-19 vaccines has improved since their market launch, the “flexibilities” presented as temporary by the European Medicines Agency still appear to be in effect...

©Prescrire 1 September 2023

Source: "Annual review of drug packaging: progress is too slow" Prescrire International 2023; 32 (251): 218-221. Free.

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