Anatomy of a medicine package
Have you ever wondered what the different markings and lables on medicine packages tell you? Take a look at our crash course on the anatomy of medicine packages.
What is the most important information you can find on a medicine package?
The brand name, the active ingredient and composition, and the package insert. In several countries the package also includes a pharmacy sticker, showing the name of the person the drug has been prescribed to and dosing instructions.
What does the colour of the package indicate?
In Orion’s packages, the strength of the medicine is highlighted with a colour bar. In lower dosages the colour in the package is lighter, whereas stronger dosages of the same product are indicated with a darker colour.
Can you tell the drug’s indication from the package?
The indication for the medicine can be found on the package insert.
What is the Vnr code found on the package in several places?
Vnr is a Nordic product number. It helps to identify the package at different stages of the supply chain, such as at wholesalers, pharmacies, hospital pharmacies or in different databases consisting of pharmaceutical product information. In order for the Vnr code, the brand name and the strenght of the drug to be easily readable during the supply chain, they have to be displayed on the package at least on three different sides.
What do the different date markings indicate, for example ”Exp 12-2015" or "Use by 12-2015"?
”Exp” is in an internationally used way to mark the expiration date of the medicine. In this example, it means the product can be used until the end of December 2015.
If the package has a marking ”Use by 12-2015”, it means the product is usable until the mentioned date, in this case until the end of November 2015.
What should I do with expired medicines?
Expired drugs are hazardous waste and should be returned to pharmacies or, depending on the country, to other official parties for proper processing.
How do you I see how the medicine should be stored?
If the medicine is meant to be strored in other conditions than room temperature (from +15°C to +25°C), the instructions are available in the package together with other informative texts. More information on storing the drug can be found in the package insert.
Where can I find the product’s batch number? What does it stand for?
The batch number can be found next to the expiration date. With the batch number it is possible to track down the products manufactured at the same time.
Can I see the packaging or manufacturing location of the drug from the package?
The manufacturing or packaging location is not displayed in the package. For example, in the EU market area you can find information about the marketing authorisation holder and the manufacturer responsible for the product in the EU.
Do I have to read the package insert?
The package insert is an essential summary of the medicine for the patient. You should always read it before taking the medication. The package insert describes, for example, the properties and indications of the product, provides dosing guidelines and warns about possible combination and adverse effects. The insert also informs if the medicine is not compliant with some other medicines and whether it can be safely used during pregnancy and breast feeding, or while driving. The package leaflet also has information on how long the medication can be used and how it should be stored.