Consumer Drug Information Shows Areas of Concern

Study examines medication information accompanying prescriptions of lisinopril, metformin
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Consumer medication information (CMI) accompanying prescription drugs dispensed at retail pharmacies is often subject to concerns about format, comprehensibility, and excessive length, according to research published in the Aug. 9/23 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Almut G. Winterstein, Ph.D., of the University of Florida in Gainesville, and colleagues analyzed data from a national sample of 365 pharmacies where professional shoppers filled prescriptions for lisinopril and 364 pharmacies where they filled prescriptions for metformin. CMI was evaluated using a number of criteria adapted from U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines on components of consumer medication information.

The researchers found that 94 percent of pharmacies provided written CMI for these medications. Lisinopril and metformin prescriptions met 60.2 and 57.7 percent of the criteria for useful CMI, respectively. Areas of particular concern were directions for use and monitoring and comprehensibility/legibility. The CMI materials ranged in length from 33 to 2,482 words, and those that met more than 80 percent of the content criteria had more than 1,000-word differences in length.

"In conclusion, although CMI distribution through pharmacies seems to be effective, the content, format, reading level, and excessive length are disconcerting. Private sector initiatives to ensure the provision of useful CMI to patients have failed to meet the standards for useful, readable information. Further research needs to address the quantity, presentation, and format of CMI that will result in adequate patient comprehension and, ultimately, appropriate actions to improve patient safety," the authors conclude.

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