What is the difference between the primary and secondary labeling of a drug?

A major part of the success of a new drug comes down to the labeling, ensuring a patient knows exactly how to use it safely for the best results. User puts their full trust in the contents of a pharmaceutical label, using it to guide how they take medicine and informing them of any warnings that they should be aware of. With this being said, everyone coming into contact with the product must be able to access the information they need. 

Primary labeling can be referred to as the label which is attached to the product itself, normally in the form of a plastic film that surrounds the container. This label tends to contain the highest level of detail which is essential since it is the only information source a patient is likely to have about the drug once they have disposed of the initial packaging or prescription. Containing key pieces of information such as the condition the drug is designed to treat, a full ingredient list, usage instructions, and an expiration date, the label must be designed to last. Many pharmaceutical companies use high-quality primary labels which are printed, varnished, embossed, and attached to the product using a strong adhesive. It is a legal requirement that pharmaceutical labels last the lifespan of a product, being tested against harsh environments such as heat, cold, and moisture, to ensure they are still legible and can provide important details to the patient as and when needed.

A secondary label on the other hand relates to the outer packaging. Whether it is stuck to the outer box, bulk order, or pharmaceutical packaging, it is a label that will be seen before the primary label. The main purpose of the secondary label is to summarize the contents and guide the medical professional or patient on what to expect from the contents of the packaging. More often than not, this label will contain a lower level of information but also includes additional extras such as the quantity, weight, barcode, and batch code. This allows everyone who handles the drug during the transit stage, as well as the medical professional dispatching the drug, can process it without having to search through large chunks of text to find the pieces of information that they need.


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