Who keeps the box?


The pharmacy label on your prescription medicine has important information. It identifies you as the person who will be taking the medicine and tells you how to use your medicine properly and safely. Adding a label to medicines such as tubes of creams, small bottles of liquids or eye drops, and inhalers can be difficult. In these cases, the label is sometimes placed on the outer carton or package that contains the medicine.

We have received several reports describing prescription labels placed only on the outer box, without a label on the actual product or medicine. For example, a consumer reported getting a liquid antibiotic in a small bottle with no pharmacy label. The label had been placed on the outer carton, but the box had been discarded once the medicine was picked up from the pharmacy. As a result, the consumer discovered that she no longer had important information such as the strength of the medicine or instructions on how to take it.

Some over-the-counter medicines are combination products, such as those used to treat the cold and flu. They contain more than one medicine, but the container label may not list all the medicines. Typically, the outer carton or package has that information.

Here’s what you can do: Make sure your medicines are always labeled properly so you know exactly how to take them:

• When you are picking up your prescription medicines at the pharmacy, take the time to check that each medicine has a pharmacy label on the product, not just on the outer box. This is especially important for products such as creams, liquids, eye/ear drops, and inhalers. If you don’t find a label on the product, ask the pharmacist to put a label on it.

• If you don’t find a pharmacy label on your medicine container after you get home from the pharmacy, look for a label on the outer box. Keep the box or take a picture of the pharmacy label on the outside of the box. This way you will always have a record of the instructions.

Created on February 17, 2020

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