Canada unveils new labeling initiative to enhance drug safety

Canada has rolled out the plain language labeling initiative to improve the safe use of medicines by making drug labels and safety information easier to read and understand for all health care practitioners and Canadians.

Canada health minister Leona Aglukkaq said that millions of Canadians rely on drugs to maintain and improve their health and vague labeling carries some risks.

The government will be making plain language a requirement on drug packages in order to help prevent adverse drug reactions, medication errors and protect Canadian patients, Aglukkaq added.

It was found that one in nine emergency rooms visits were related to drug adverse effects, and 68% of such cases are preventable, but occur due to limited access to products’ information printed on the labels.

Under the new proposal, key safeguards such as a ‘Drug Facts’ table should be imprinted on the label to standardize the format of non-prescription drug labels and assist users to locate important information.

Drug manufactures will have to maintain contact information on labels so that users can report problems and adverse drug reactions, to provide mock-ups of labels and packages for review, and cater evidence.

The new plan will be implemented in phases starting with prescription and followed by non-prescription drugs.