How to read prescription drug labels

Navigating the “medicine label” of a prescription drug: How to read and understand the information in prescription labels

Whenever you are prescribed a medication, you should read and follow the information in the medication’s “label” in order to ensure your safety.

  • All prescription medicine containers include information on the label including the patient’s name, the name of the medicine, dosage and instructions on how often to take the medicine.
  • More detailed printed information about the medication is usually provided by the pharmacy when prescription medicine is dispensed. This Patient Medicine Information (PMI) includes important information such as instructions for use, and warnings about side effects and possible drug interactions.

Get familiar with the different parts of your prescription drug labels with this example. Use your cursor to rollover the different sections of the label to learn more.

Prescription Label


Warnings are specific to the medicine you are taking. Always read the warnings before taking your medicine.

Expiration Date

Medicines expire. You should not take a medicine after the expiration date.

Pharmacy Information

Your local pharmacy name, address and phone number and the name of the doctor that has prescribed your medicine will be listed. Contact your pharmacist if you have any questions about your prescription.

Your prescription (Rx) number is unique to your medicine and helps the pharmacist ensure you go home with the correct prescription.

Source: Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition: