Merck redesigns drug labels to prevent dispensing errors

June 21, 2011

Merck & Co. has redesigned 34 of its drug container labels to improve readability and provide better information on product and strength differentiation, according to a statement on the company?s website.

Merck & Co. has redesigned 34 of its drug container labels to improve readability and provide better information on product and strength differentiation, according to a statement on the company’s website. FDA announced its approval of the new standardized format June 10 in a news release.

The 16 solid oral drugs affected by the revisions include: Cozaar, Crixivan, Hyzaar, Isentress, Janumet, Januvia, Mevacor, Noroxin, Prinivil, Prinizide, Propecia, Proscar, Singulair, Zocor, and Zolinza.

Merck took a scientific approach to the label design through Human Factors Engineering and Usability Studies and incorporated feedback from FDA and label surveys, according to the news release.

“These changes to the packaging of several medicines were made by Merck as a result of comprehensive research conducted directly with pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to understand how the company could help them to further support the accuracy of medication dispensing within the pharmacy,” the company said in its statement.

The changes include an increased font size for the drug's brand and chemical names, the addition of a 3-D picture of the drug, more prominent positioning of the drug’s expiration date and special coding for the pharmacist, and the addition of 2 color-coded bands on the bottles to denote brand and dosage strength, Michael Rosenblatt, MD, Merck's chief medical officer, told The Associated Press.

“We commend Merck for their efforts,” said Janet Woodcock, MD, director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “This was no small undertaking, and we are hopeful that Merck’s new standardized labels will aid in reducing pharmacy selection errors.”