A new study has determined that the FDA-required patient medication guides meant to explain risks associated with prescribed drugs are “of little value” because “they are too complex and difficult to understand,” especially for those with limited reading skills.
The researchers, who published their findings in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, found that only 1 of 185 medication guides they analyzed was considered suitable to be understood by patients. None of the guides provided summaries or reviews and very few explained the importance of the guide to patients, they said.
“The extent to which patients across all literacy levels did not understand any aspect of the med guides demonstrates that they are too complex to be useful,” the researchers concluded. “This might explain why patients in prior studies reported not reviewing consumer medication information, and why the majority in our study had never heard of med guides.”
A companion editorial from the VA Outcomes Group at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice recommends reorganizing the guides, including using graphics and adding information on how to take the medicine as prescribed.