Dutch pharmacists launch icons for medicine use

icons chemistsThe Dutch pharmacists’ association KNMP has developed a range of 24 icons to help people who cannot read understand how to take their medicine.

The icons range from ‘take on an empty stomach’ to ‘don’t drive’. The organisation says one in nine adults in the Netherlands has difficulty reading and 25% have problems with reading the instructions for use included with medicines.

The KNMP has also launched a radio and online advertising campaign to encourage people to ask if they don’t understand how to take medicine.

‘These people are more likely to end up in hospital than people who can read and write,’ chairman Gerben Klein Nulent told broadcaster Nos. ‘We want to do something about this.’

Since January 1, dispensing chemists must talk to first-time patients about what the patient already knows about the medicine, the effects and side effects to be expected and whether the patient has understood what has been said.

Prior to the introduction of the new rules, the cost of an explanation was included in the price of the medicine. It is now listed separately and costs on average €6. Hundreds of people have complained about the fees to their health insurers and the consumers’ association Consumentenbond.

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