What we found: Bottle warning labels
One benefit of Target's redesigned bottle is that it allows more space for more warnings and instructions on the back. In the case of the warfarin prescription we filled, the bottle label clearly included four horizontal warnings and one directive to "read the medication guide that comes with this medicine." Walgreens also had four warnings printed on the bottle label; CVS had three printed on the label, Costco had two warning stickers positioned sideways on the bottle, and Walmart had none. (Filling another 5 mg warfarin prescription at the same Walmart a second time did yield a bottle with three warning stickers on it, as did a third trip to another Walmart in the area, though they weren't the same three warning stickers on each bottle.)
How can there be different or missing warning labels? Drugstores use information from various software vendors, and the software sets the risk level of a medication based on scientific studies, says Carmen Catizone, executive director of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, which works with each state's regulatory board.
And, while each state's board of pharmacy has the ability to set guidelines for prescription bottle warnings, none of them has. "It's up to the company and pharmacist to then decide what risk levels merit what labels," says Catizone. "Some companies don't allow discretion in affixing warning labels generated by the software system, while others make the warning labels available and it's the pharmacist who decides which label to affix to the container."
Here's a breakdown of the warning labels on each of the bottles we received:
Warnings on the bottle (printed on label or stickers)
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These materials are made possible by a grant from the state Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program, which is funded by the multi-state settlement of consumer-fraud claims regarding the marketing of the prescription drug Neurontin (gabapentin).
If you think you have experienced an adverse event with this drug or any drug, especially if it is of a serious nature, it is important to 1) tell your doctor immediately and 2) report the event to the Food and Drug Administration via the FDA's MedWatch Web site at www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/medwatch/medwatch-online.htm or by calling 1-800-FDA-1088.