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Pain Reliever Warnings Not Prominent or Conspicuous

Warnings often not looked at or recalled, often illegible

WEDNESDAY, April 1 (HealthDay News) -- Warnings on over-the-counter pain relievers are often not looked at or recalled and are often not legible compared with other elements of the label, according to a report published online March 30 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Laura Bix, Ph.D., and colleagues from Michigan State University in East Lansing quantified the relative prominence and conspicuousness of warnings on the packaging of five over-the-counter analgesics that were meant to be read at the point of purchase (i.e., packaging not child-resistant, possibility of tampering). This was determined by tracking eye movements, the ability to recall information on the label, and the legibility of the warnings compared with other elements on the label (using the Lockhart Legibility Instrument) in 61 adults.

Comparing eye movements in five label gaze zones, the researchers found that more than 80 percent of subjects failed to record time in the tamper evident zone and more than 50 percent failed to record time in the child-resistant feature zone. The warning categories were least frequently recalled, ranging from 0 to 18 percent, while brand name and color were most frequently recalled. The child-resistant and tamper evident warnings were the least legible, according to the authors.

"Evidence presented here suggests that two required warnings (tamper evident and child-resistant) on five different over-the-counter analgesics are not prominent or conspicuous relative to other elements of labels that are used for marketing purposes," Bix and colleagues conclude.

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