I had a bit of down time at work the other day and I decided to grab a few over the counter products to compare packaging.
When I refer people to the pain relief section to pick up some Advil or ibuprofen, they take one look at the shelf and come back with half a dozen boxes wondering which one is the best. The only thing manufacturers are doing when it comes to labelling non-prescription drugs is creating confusion and taking advantage of individuals who cannot make informed decisions for themselves. There are countless examples of how labelling of non-prescription drugs are causing much confusion when it comes to selection.
In the past, Canadian food labels have came under scrutiny for having misleading packaging.
People who are illiterate or have slight visual impairments that prevent them from reading fine print rely heavily on visuals in order to make decisions.
There are many generic and brand versions of the exact same medicinal ingredient: acetaminophen.
I think just about anyone can come out with a new brand of sleep aid and use the same ingredient as is found in the brand name allergy medication Benadryl. This misleading packaging is promoting their foods as healthy when they’re very far from that.


Someone would come to the pharmacy counter holding the exact same products (in terms of medicinal ingredients) and ask me which one is the best? To me, coming out with a new shape for a tablet isn’t accomplishing anything but more confusion. They may mean you don’t need to have a sip of water to take the medication, but they will all work the same (assuming dose is the same).
I understand the need for re-labelling and reinventing the look of other consumer products to increase sales and brand awareness. So many people end up purchasing this because it looks new and they assume it is a completely different product. Having a completely different version of Tylenol makes people wonder if one is better than the other. I bring all this up because I really hope that sometime in the near future people get serious about the labelling of non-prescription drugs. The same ingredient responsible for the sedating feeling of brand names Benadryl (anti-allergy) and Gravol (anti-nauseant).
Labelling of non-prescription products should be standardized in such a way as to avoid confusion and promote easier medication selection.


This is an issue that hasn’t had much attention yet and really should be the next-in-line.
Of course there are standards and guidelines in Canada for labelling over-the-counter products, but clearly they’re not doing anything to make it any easier for consumers to choose their own medications. If you take a look at the pain relief section of any pharmacy you can see 10 different types of ibuprofen and another 10 different types of acetaminophen. If they want to come out with new packaging they should be forced to remove their old packaging from their production line and the pharmacy shelves.
Most often I tell them to save their money on these products and use their Benadryl they have at home.



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