Labelling of medicines


Labelling lines


Picture of tablet on the package



It should be possible to find out how the tablet or capsule looks like.

The best way would be to print a true size picture of it on the package.


Increasingly, medicines cannot be inspected without breaking the package.

Medicine packages are sealed to prevent tampering. In UK they are very concerned

child-resistant packaging, and demand non-transparent tablet blisters. The blisters

may also be non-transparent as a result of air or light protection.

Very seldom the package has a picture of the tablets, or even a description of it.

Even in the drug catalogues such information is missing.


Patients talk about small white tablets, the little red ones, the blue and orange

capsules, and the pharmacists don't have a clue what colour they are. Even if they

have the 'suspected' package in hand, they can't positively identify tablets or verify

the appearence without breaking the package.


There is no regulatory requirement for such pictures in any countries that I know of.

There should be no regulatory hindrance either, but old habits are difficult to turn,

so I suspect there may be proposals that have been turned down. And there are surely

regulatory people both in industry and in regulatory authorities who unreflected believe

tablet pictures would be illegal on the packages (unhealthy promotion).


I have tried to promote manufacturers to use such pictures for a couple of years, but

haven't had much success so far. But I am sure(?) it will be standard in five years.


There is a large generic company in France (have forgotten the name) which prints

pictograms of the dosage form on the package. This is better than nothing, but a

coloured picture in full size would be best.


Even if a picture was difficult, a description would help. Such pictures should also be

printed in the different drug catalogues

(Rote Liste in Germany, FASS in Sweden, Felleskatalogen in Norway etc), where there

also should be a verbal description of the tablets/capsules.


Colour pictures may demand printing in one extra colour. I am in no doubt that it is worth it.



last revision 31012004