Bid to simplify drug packaging

Generic versions of the same medicine should look alike, pharmacist representatives have argued.

The move would, they believe, reduce the anxiety and confusion that patients experience as the appearance of their medicines change whenever they are given versions of the same medicine made by a different manufacturer.

The branch representatives meeting of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) has passed a motion calling for the RPSGB, the DoH, the MHRA and the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) to work together on the issue.

The motion was put forward by Cathey Holland, a pharmacist in Chester. She told GP that ensuring all the generic versions of one medicine looked alike would be 'great for patients'.

'We don't underestimate what it means for manufacturers,' she said. 'But the issue is only controversial in terms of cost and manufacturing.'

Ms Holland believes that patients' confusion about their medicines is having a knock-on effect on the NHS. 'It is causing an unnecessary loss of confidence in healthcare, in pharmacists and in doctors,' she said.

The idea is now due to be considered by the RPSGB's council. No date for this discussion has yet been set.

An NPSA spokesman told GP that the agency was keen to work to reduce confusion in drug packaging, but that it does not have any regulatory authority in relation to tablet design and appearance.

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