Study: Prescription leaflets vary widely in quality

New research sponsored by the FDA has concluded that the quality of information in leaflets accompanying new prescriptions varies widely, and in some cases doesn't convey critical instructions. While the agency can do little about this at the moment--it has the power to regulate medication labels and inserts, but not leaflets--there is no doubt that it wants to throw a spotlight on this problem.

To conduct the study, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy and Florida College of Pharmacy looked at leaflets pharmacies gave patients for new prescriptions for blood pressure medicine lisinopril and diabetes drug metformin; in all, they examined literature from 365 pharmacies in 41 states.

Researchers concluded that one-quarter of the leaflets didn't meet minimum standards for information on the drugs. For example, two-thirds didn't clearly spell out dosing information, and 40 percent didn't include dosing instructions written specifically for that patient.

They found that three percent of lisinopril leaflets and 18 percent of metformin leaflets advised patients to stop taking the meds if they experienced side effects, and most suggested contacting a physician in that instance. Meanwhile, 6 percent of pharmacies didn't provide any written information at all with new prescriptions.

To learn more about the study:
- read this Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report item

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