Usage made visual

The Board Room

Usage made visual

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Information about medicines and their use is often complex. How can visual language provide a solution?

Before a drug is introduced on the market, it undergoes strict controls. Not only by the manufacturer, but also by an independent government organization. In the Netherlands this has, since 1963, been the responsibility of the Medicines Evaluation Board (MEB), which was set up in the wake of the Softenon (thalidomide) affair. The MEB regulates the quality, efficacy and safety of a medicine and stimulates its proper use in every day clinical practice. That is why the MEB checks all package leaflets. For medicines in the Netherlands and - together with European colleagues - for medicines in Europe.

It is important that every user understands the information provided on a particular medicine

For most drug users, the package leaflet is the most important and usually only source of information about their medicines. That is beneficial in itself, but there is also a disadvantage: the information on the package leaflet is completely textual. For some of the users that is problematic because they do not speak the language or because the language used for them is not always clear. Or, for example, the patient is not able to read the package leaflet due to illiteracy, loss of sight or to mental problems. It is difficult to ascertain to what extent this part of the users is enabled to use the medicine safely and correctly.

Users who have difficulty with textual information are provided with symbol-based communication or visuals

It is important that the way in which information about medicines is offered is widened and that visual language is also used. The MEB is committed to making symbol-based information materials or other kinds of visuals available. But that’s easier said than done. It is important that the visual language for medicines is as unambiguous as that on traffic signs. To achieve this, a lot of dialogue with users is needed. This animation tries to promote that dialogue.