Are the drug instructions densely packed?Make “Aging Suitable” closer to the elderly
“The words on the drug instructions are really too small!” Aunt Wang, 72, said that when she went to the pharmacy to buy medicine by herself, she forgot the dosage prescribed by the pharmacist, so she had to ask her daughter to help read the drug instructions, but her daughter couldn’t understand “professional” I have to go to the pharmacy to ask about the usage and dosage.
The words are as small as ants, the words are uncommon, and the chemical formulas and technical terms make people confused… When it comes to drug instructions, many elderly people feel headaches.
How to make the “eye-catching” and “professional” drug instructions more “appropriate for the elderly”? What problems are still facing in the related aging reform? Experts in the industry said that drug instructions should not ignore standardization and safety, but at the same time, practicality should also be considered. Resolving this problem requires the joint efforts of the government, enterprises and all parties in the society, so that the elderly can “see clearly” and “understand” it, and effectively ensure the safety of medication.
Drug instructions are “unreadable” and “unreadable”
“Currently, the drug instructions are densely packed with front and back sides, and the elderly may not be able to see them clearly when wearing reading glasses. It is recommended to actively adapt to the needs of the elderly society and improve the drug instructions in due course.” Recently, some netizens posted on “People’s Daily Online” “Leadership Message Board”, suggesting that drug instructions should be modified during the aging process.
Statistics show that by the end of 2022, there will be about 280 million people aged 60 and over nationwide, accounting for 19.8% of the country’s population. With the acceleration of the aging process, aging-appropriate transformation has become a work that the country has vigorously promoted in recent years.
In July 2020, 9 departments including the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the National Development and Reform Commission jointly issued the “Guiding Opinions on Accelerating the Implementation of Home-Based Renovation Projects for the Elderly”; The notice of the plan; the “The 14th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development of the People’s Republic of China and the 2035 Long-term Goal Outline” issued in March 2021, etc., will promote the improvement of the quality of home life services for the elderly in various places and the promotion of mobile Internet applications. (APP) age-appropriate transformation, development of age-appropriate technologies and products, and the cultivation of new forms of smart elderly care have put forward clear requirements.
With the continuous implementation of various policies and measures, my country has made positive progress in the transformation of aging-friendly services. However, compared with my country’s aging status and the huge demand for elderly-friendly services, there is still a lot of room for development. Especially in the field of health services, “unclear” and “incomprehensible” drug instructions are also common problems reported by the public, especially the elderly.
The bend of a dental floss stick can accommodate more than 20 characters.Photo by People’s Daily Online reporter Yang Di
The reporter searched for several commonly used medicines and found that in the ordinary medicine instructions, the bend of a dental floss stick can hold more than 20 words. Prescription drug inserts tend to be smaller and accommodate more words. In addition, the usage and dosage of prescription drugs need to consider multiple factors such as the patient’s age, weight, etiology, and drug contraindications. Without the guidance of a doctor or pharmacist, it is difficult for ordinary people to judge how to take them.
Although according to regulations, patients should purchase and use prescription drugs under the supervision and guidance of doctors/pharmacists, but some commonly used antihypertensive and anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs, when the elderly want to learn more information through the instructions, the above are dense and unprofessional The text will obviously bring a lot of inconvenience.
In addition, the instructions of many over-the-counter drugs contain unclear words such as fasting, caution for pregnant women, and reduction for children. What does dunfu mean? How to use with caution? How is discretionary subtraction subtracted? It is also difficult for ordinary people to understand.
“Drug instructions seem to be a small problem that is commonplace in ordinary people’s daily life, but in fact it is a big issue related to people’s vital interests and life, health and safety.” Zhang Kanghuai, chief pharmacist at the Second Affiliated Hospital of Xi’an Jiaotong University, said that only the aging of drug instructions Only when it is put into practice and meets the actual needs of the elderly can the transformation be changed into the hearts of the elderly.
Experts: Make drug instructions more “smart”
Since the elderly have many inconveniences in using drug instructions, why has it been so long since the text of the instructions has been enlarged and the professional expression “popular”?
In this regard, the reporter specifically called Northeast Pharmaceutical Group Shenyang No. 1 Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. and consulted the staff of the quality department on related issues. The staff member said that the content of the drug instructions has been reviewed and approved by the State Food and Drug Administration, and pharmaceutical companies cannot change them at will. In addition, the current regulations do not have particularly clear regulations on the font and font size of drug instructions.
“In addition to introducing drug information, drug instructions also have legal effect.” Zhang Kanghuai told reporters that the country has strict standards for the printing of drug instructions. No matter how small the package is, it also needs instructions. In order to accommodate more content and save costs, some pharmaceutical companies can only continue to reduce the font size. The drug instructions are small in paper and small in font, and it seems that there is a lot of information that should be there, but in fact, the readability and visibility are extremely poor.
In fact, drug instructions are not completely unchangeable. Article 49 of the “Drug Administration Law” stipulates: “The text on drug labels and instructions should be clear, and the production date, expiration date, etc. should be clearly marked and easy to identify.” There is no clear regulation on the font and font size.
“If the changes are only blackening, increasing font size, or underlining, etc., the company can report in the annual report without approval.” Wang Huiming, director of the Lianyungang Inspection Branch of the Jiangsu Provincial Drug Administration, once interviewed CCTV. express.
Since the initiative is in the hands of pharmaceutical companies, why are pharmaceutical companies unwilling to change?
In this regard, Zhang Kanghuai said that the size of most current drug instructions has been well matched with the automation equipment. If the font size is enlarged, it may affect the size of the entire paper, which in turn affects the folding method of the drug instructions and the size of the medicine box. It’s a huge expense.
“If the content of the instruction manual is redesigned, the selection of paper, the transformation of the assembly line, and the increase in cost all need to be steadily and actively promoted on the basis of consensus among all parties, which increases the difficulty of aging-adaptive transformation to a certain extent.” He said.
Zhang Kanghuai suggested that manufacturers can appropriately improve drug instructions by increasing the font size of usage and dosage, and underlining or bolding the text describing indications, administration methods, and adverse reactions.
Experts in the industry said that being able to read the drug instructions clearly is only the first step, and it is even more important for the elderly to understand the contents. On this basis, the connotation of information services can be further broadened to make drug instructions more “smart”. For example, adding a QR code voice broadcast function for the elderly with poor eyesight, or making important information about medicines into short videos that are easy to understand, etc., can effectively reduce the barriers for elderly patients to read drug instructions.
Retrofitting suitable for aging needs the joint efforts of multiple parties
Promoting the aging-appropriate transformation of drug instructions has received widespread attention from all walks of life. In recent years, representatives of the National Two Sessions have put forward relevant suggestions.
In October 2022, in response to the No. 2748 recommendation of the Fifth Session of the Thirteenth National People’s Congress, the State Food and Drug Administration stated that in order to standardize drug inserts and labels, the “Regulations on the Administration of Drug Inserts and Labels” clarifies the textual expression, Text form, important scientific data, conclusions and information on drug safety and effectiveness, etc., specify that the text in drug instructions and labels should be clear and legible, and the labels should be clear and eye-catching. At the same time, according to the characteristics of non-prescription drugs, it is clear that the instructions of non-prescription drugs should be expressed in words that are easy to understand, so that patients can judge, choose and use by themselves.
In addition, the State Food and Drug Administration is studying the related work of publishing the instructions of approved drugs on the website, further exploring and promoting the application of electronic instructions in the process of patients’ medication, encouraging enterprises to launch electronic instructions, and reducing the number of elderly patients through voice broadcasting and other means. Obstacles encountered in the process of reading the instructions.
In some places, government departments have taken practical actions to promote the age-appropriate transformation of drug instructions.
In June 2020, the Shaanxi Provincial Food and Drug Administration issued an opinion to encourage drug manufacturers in the province to print a QR code for the instructions on the drug packaging labels. Patients can scan the code to obtain the electronic version of the instructions, and adjust the text size of the instructions as needed.
Lianyungang City, Jiangsu Province, known as the “China Pharmaceutical Port”, will carry out a pilot project of “aging-friendly” transformation of some drug instructions in local pharmaceutical companies from 2022. The font size of the usage, dosage, etc. Adverse reactions are underlined or bolded. At the same time, service desks have been set up in 39 retail pharmacies, and printers have been configured to provide enlarged instructions for the elderly to read.
At present, all parts of the country are constantly improving the work process and optimizing the home life scene around the aging service. Similarly, the promotion of aging-friendly transformation of drug instructions also requires the cooperation and active promotion of government departments at all levels, enterprises and the whole society. Let the elderly no longer have to worry about “unable to read” or “unreadable” instructions, and help the elderly to read drug information conveniently and ensure the safety of medication to the greatest extent.