ments to occur, materials should be designed according to designated standards to meet the needs of the end user. Industry, AHRQ, the FDA, and others as appropriate (e.g., U.S. Pharmacopeia, Institute for Safe Medication Practices) should work together to undertake the following actions to address labeling, packaging, and the distribution of free samples:

  • The FDA should develop two guidance documents for industry: one for drug naming and another for labeling and packaging. The FDA and industry should collaborate to develop (1) a common drug nomenclature that standardizes abbreviations, acronyms, and terms to the extent possible, and (2) methods of applying failure modes and effects analysis to labeling and packaging.

  • Additional study of optimum designs for all drug labeling and information sheets to reflect human and cognitive factors should be undertaken. Methods for testing and measuring the effects of these materials on providers and consumers should also be established, including methods for field testing of the materials. The FDA, the NLM, and industry should work with consumer and patient safety organizations to improve the nomenclature used in consumer materials.

  • The FDA, the pharmaceutical industry, and other stakeholders should collaborate to develop a strategy for expanding unit-of-use packaging for consumers to new therapeutic areas. Studies should be undertaken to evaluate different unit-of-use packaging and design approaches that will best support various consumer groups in their medication self-management.

  • AHRQ should fund studies to evaluate the impact of free samples on overall patient safety, provider prescribing practices, and consumer behavior (e.g., adherence to the medication regimen), as well as alternative methods of distribution that can improve safety, quality, and effectiveness.

Health Information Technology

Realization of the full benefits of many health information technologies (such as decision-support systems, smart IV pumps, bar code administration systems, and pharmacy database systems) is hampered by the lack of common data standards for system integration and well-designed interfaces for end users.

Problems with data standards for drug information are threefold. First, there is no complete, standardized set of terms, concepts, and codes to represent drug information. Second, there is no standardized method for

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