Easier-to-read labels improves patient safety

Ottawa: The Government of Canada finalized new plain language labelling regulations that will help improve the safe use of drugs by making drug labels and packaging information easier to read and understand, as promised in the 2013 Speech from the Throne.

The Regulations Amending the Food and Drug Regulations (Labelling, Packaging and Brand Names of Drugs for Human Use) were published today in Canada Gazette, Part II and are part of the Plain Language Labelling Initiative. The regulations will gradually be phased into effect, delivering key safeguards such as:

  • Labels that are clear, understandable, and in plain language;
  • A standardized format for non-prescription drug labels (such as a “Drug Facts” table) to help users find and understand important information;
  • Mandatory contact information on labels so that users can report problems and adverse drug reactions;
  • Requiring manufacturers to provide mock-ups of labels and packages for Health Canada review; and,
  • Look Alike – Sound Alike provisions requiring manufacturers to provide evidence that drug names will not be confused with other authorized products.

Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health said, As Minister of Health, I am personally committed to improving safety for Canadians every day – by making drugs safer, and also making it easier for people to use them properly. Providing Canadians with clear, understandable and credible information about the potential risks and appropriate use of drugs is one of the most valuable safety tools.” 
The regulations support the Government’s Patient Safety priorities under the proposed Bill C-17 (Vanessa’s Law) Health Canada’s Regulatory Transparency and Openness Framework and our commitment to make more data and information available to Canadians. The regulations also support Health Canada’s Roadmap for Regulatory Modernization, which identified plain language labelling as a deliverable.