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The Role of Medical Product Labels, By Steve Dingman

Anyone who has set foot in a supermarket is familiar with the practice of food labeling. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains strict standards for what must and what cannot appear on food labels and packaging.

The FDA also sets out guidelines for medicine and medical equipment. In the medical field, labels are at least as important as they are in the grocery store. In an urgent surgery situation, a nurse or doctor may need to know at a glance, based on a product’s label, whether that product can save a patient’s life.

Just as the FDA routinely issues new guidelines about what can and cannot appear on food labels, the organization regularly updates its recommendations for medical labels. FDA guidelines for medical labels are intended to promote clear and concise communication of information. Failure to follow these guidelines could lead to tragic consequences for consumers—and hefty fines for manufacturers. Despite existing guidelines, however, some in the medical industry believe that labels could be made clearer and more informative through the use of color coding, larger fonts, and smaller company logos on packaging.

About the Author

In his role as Drug Safety Physician with UCB, Inc., in Raleigh, North Carolina, Steve Dingman provides recommendations for updates to product labels for various medical products.