The Better Use programme
The MEB launched its ‘Better Use' programme in 2017. The programme is part of the MEB’s strategic ambition to promote the proper usage of medicines. Improving the information provided to healthcare providers (prescribers and pharmacists, in particular) is a key aspect of this strategy.
For every medicine the MEB prepares a summary of product characteristics (SmPC) and a patient information leaflet. These documents provide reliable, impartial information on medicines. Research conducted by NIVEL has revealed that 89% of Dutch users of medicines consult and have confidence in the SmPC and the patient information leaflet, but that not everyone understands the information provided in them. One area for potential improvement is therefore improving the clarity and comprehensibility of the official patient information leaflet. A clearer link between the information provided on medicines and the field of healthcare would also improve information provision.
In the years to come the MEB will therefore focus on making clear, comprehensible information available regarding the good use of medicines to all Dutch people. For instance, the MEB wishes to ensure that those with limited knowledge of health matters or those who have difficulty reading can also understand this information. The MEB also wishes to make available the information that is currently only accessible through its own Medicines Information Bank, so that it can be integrated more widely with the other systems used by healthcare providers and patients.
Programme Manager: Mr Jasper Hugo Brouwers.
Priorities of the Better Use programme
The programme will focus on two priorities: improved access to product information and improved information for patients.
- Improved access to product information
The MEB publishes information on medicines, such as the summary of Product Characteristics and the patient information leaflet. Various other parties involved in the field of healthcare also use this information. These include government bodies and professional organisations. The MEB is currently working on improving access to this information, so that both patients and those working in the field can search for, find, consult and make use of information about medicines. The ambition is to provide fully digitised product information in due course.
- Improved information for patients
Every patient's information needs are different. Some prefer a lengthy text that provides a lot of detail. Others prefer a short text including pictures and icons, or audio-visual information only. The MEB is currently working on improving official patient information leaflets to make them more comprehensible, as well as making audio-visual information available. The MEB is also considering whether the patient information leaflet can be made more concise and accessible.
The long-term ambition is to enable care providers to select the information from the patient information leaflets that is relevant to a particular patient, and on this basis to provide information that is better tailored to him or her.
Medicine in short
As a supplement to the patient information leaflet the MEB has developed a short and more visual presentation of information on medicines. The most important differences between the Medicine in short and the patient information leaflet are:
- The most important information on using the medicine can be seen at a glance.
- The information is provided per active substance and per illness (indication).
- There will be a description of what the medicine does for you (the 'beneficial effects').
- Only the most common adverse reactions are referred to.
- Where necessary this will be supplemented with information on life-threatening adverse reactions.
- Icons are used to support information on the proper use of the medicine.