Health Canada — Drug Labels to be Made Easier to Understand

Using plain language will become a requirement on all Canadian prescription and non-prescription drug labels. In a new government initiative aimed at preventing adverse drug reactions and medication errors, Health Canada will use different ways to make medication information easier to understand, including standardizing the format of OTC labels and requiring manufacturers to provide mock-ups of labels and packages for review. Manufacturers will also be asked to give evidence that drug names will not be confused with other authorized products on the market and include contact information on labels so that users can report problems and adverse drug reactions. According to Health Canada, as many as 1 in 9 emergency room visits are related to drug adverse events, and 68 per cent of these visits are preventable. Patients often suffer because of drug labels, packaging or names that they've misunderstood. Health Canada plans to roll out the changes in phases beginning with prescription and then non-prescription drugs after a 75-day consultation process over the summer and publication of regulatory changes in the Canada Gazette.