Addressing Health Literacy at Pharmacies

Standards for Patient-Centered Medicine Labels

Citing medication misuse and resulting adverse drug events, the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) has released standards that provide specific direction on how to organize medicine container labels in a “patient-centered” manner that reflects how most patients seek out and understand medicine instructions. The standards call for emphasizing information important to patients, increasing readability and explicitness of instructions, and addressing limited English proficiency and visual impairment. While enforcement of the standard will be the decision of individual state boards of pharmacy, the standards may reduce the wide variability in prescription container labels that exists today.

The USP standards can be found in General Chapter <17> Prescription Container Labeling, available for free at

To learn more about how pharmacists can address health literacy and access tools and curricula, visit AHRQ’s Health Literacy Pharmacy Center at