A New Design for Rx Drug Patient Information Sheets | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Design by Mathieu Lehanneur, Periscopic.


THE RULE SOUNDS reasonable enough: All prescription drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration are required to be dispensed with a “label” that includes directions for use and spells out possible side effects or risks to patients. But in practice, once all the required content and cautions are put into print, these documents can run to thousands of words. For a popular drug like Metformin (used to treat diabetes), the roughly 10,000-word label is twice as long as a typical Times Magazine article (and not nearly as entertaining). It takes the form of that tightly folded, tiny-print insert that is bundled with the drug — and it’s almost guaranteed to go unread. An unfortunate result is that many people don’t take their drug properly or quit taking it altogether.


So what do patients starting a new medication need to know? Just a few things, really. What they are taking. How to take it. What to expect. And what to do if something seems wrong. This information can be summarized in just a few words and images. The best interface for this information, it turns out, isn’t the pill bottle itself but the bag that the bottle goes in. Here, I worked with the team at Periscopic to turn the bag into something useful. (All the information is drawn from the data available at Iodine.com, the health-information website I co-founded in 2013.)


The most useful information here is probably the “What you can expect” timeline, which shows how typical side effects usually go away over time, as the body gets used to a drug. This is common knowledge to pharmacists, but it’s rarely communicated to patients. In the future, because the pharmacy most likely knows the age and sex of the patient, it could be possible to tailor the information to display the actual experience of people like them, as well as to identify any possible interactions between drugs that might arise based on their other prescriptions. The beauty of this label is that it doesn’t pretend to be an exhaustive list. It’s suited to a quick glance, which is all that most people would afford it anyway. With all respect to the F.D.A., sometime a lot less is a lot more.