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HHS/FDA RIN: 0910-AA94 Publication ID: Spring 2002 
Title: Labeling for Human Prescription Drugs; Revised Format 
Abstract: This regulation is one component of the Secretary's initiative to reduce medical errors. The regulation would amend the regulations governing the format and content of professional labeling for human prescription drug and biologic products, 21 CFR 201.56 and 201.57. The regulation would require that professional labeling include a section containing highlights of prescribing information, and a section containing an index to prescribing information; reorder currently required information and make minor changes to its content, and establish minimum graphical requirements for professional labeling. The regulation would also eliminate certain unnecessary statements that are currently required to appear on prescription drug labels and move certain information to professional labeling. 
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services(HHS)  Priority: Other Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Final Rule Stage 
Major: Undetermined  Unfunded Mandates: Undetermined 
CFR Citation: 21 CFR 201   
Legal Authority: 21 USC 321    21 USC 331    21 USC 351 to 353    21 USC 355    21 USC 358    21 USC 360    21 USC 360b    21 USC 360gg to 360ss    21 USC 371    21 USC 374    21 USC 379e    42 USC 216    42 USC 241    42 USC 262    42 USC 264   
Legal Deadline:  None

Statement of Need: The current format and content requirements in sections 201.56 and 201.57 were established to help ensure that labeling includes adequate information to enable health care practitioners to prescribe drugs safely and effectively. However, various developments in recent years, such as technological advances in drug product development, have contributed to an increase in the amount, detail, and complexity of labeling information. This has made it harder for practitioners to find specific information and to discern the most critical information in product labeling. FDA took numerous steps to evaluate the usefulness of prescription drug labeling for its principal audience and to determine whether, and how, its format and content can be improved. The agency conducted focus groups and a national survey of office-based physicians to ascertain how prescription drug labeling is used by health care practitioners, what labeling information is most important to practitioners, and how professional labeling should be revised to improve its usefulness to prescribing practitioners. Based on the concerns cited by practitioners in the focus groups and physician survey, FDA developed and tested two prototypes of revised labeling formats designed to facilitate access to important labeling information. Based on this testing, FDA developed a third revised prototype that it made available to the public for comment. Ten written comments were received on the prototype. FDA also presented the revised prototype at an informal public meeting held on October 30, 1995. At the public meeting, the agency also presented the background research and provided a forum for oral feedback from invited panelists and members of the audience. The panelists generally supported the prototype. The proposed rule discribed format and content requirements for prescription drug labeling that incorporate information and ideas gathered during this process. The agency has received several comments on the proposal and the comment period was extended until June 22, 2001.

Summary of the Legal Basis: The agency has broad authority under sections 201, 301, 501, 502, 503, 505, and 701 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act)(21 U.S.C. 321, 331, 351, 352, 353, 355 and 371) and section 351 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 262) to regulate the content and format of prescription drug labeling to help ensure that products are safe and effective for their intended uses. A major part of FDA's efforts regarding the safe and effective use of drug products involves FDA's review, approval, and monitoring of drug labeling. Under section 502(f)(1) of the Act, a drug is misbranded unless its labeling bears "adequate directions for use" or it is exempted from this requirement by regulation. Under section 201.100 (21 CFR 201.100), a prescription drug is exempted from the requirement in section 502(f)(1) only if, among other things, it contains the information required, in the format specified, by sections 201.56 and 201.57. Under section 502(a) of the Act, a drug product is misbranded if its labeling is false or misleading in any particular. Under section 505(d) and 505(e) of the Act, FDA must refuse to approve an application and may withdraw the approval of an application if the labeling for the drug is false or misleading in any particular. Section 201(n) of the Act provides that in determining whether the labeling of a drug is misleading, there shall be taken into account not only representations or suggestions made in the labeling, but also the extent to which the labeling fails to reveal facts that are material in light of such representations or material with respect to the consequences which may result from use of the drug product under the conditions of use prescribed in the labeling or under customary usual conditions of use. These statutory provisions, combined with section 701(a) of the Act and section 351 of the Public Health Service Act, clearly authorize FDA to promulgate a final regulation designed to help ensure that practitioners prescribing drugs (including biological products) will receive information essential to their safe and effective use in a format that makes the information easier to access, read, and use.

Alternatives: The alternatives to the final rule include not amending the content and format requirements in sections 201.56 and 201.57 at all, or amending them to a lesser extent. The agency has determined that although drug product labeling, as currently designed, is useful to physicians, many find it difficult to locate specific information in labeling, and some of the most frequently consulted and most important information is obscured by other information. In addition, the agency's research showed that physicians strongly support the concept of including a highlights section of the most important prescribing information, an index and numbering system that permits specific information to be easily located, and other requirements, such as the requirement for a minimum type size. Thus, the agency believes that the requirements in the final rule will greatly facilitate health care practitioners' access and use of prescription drug and biological labeling information.

Anticipated Costs and Benefits: The expected benefits from the final rule include reduced time needed for health care professionals to read or review labeling for desired information, increased effectiveness of treatment, and a decrease in adverse events resulting from avoidable drug-related errors. For example, the proposed revised format is expected to significantly reduce the time spent on reading labeling by highlighting often used information at the beginning of labeling and facilitating access to detailed information. The potential costs associated with the final rule include the cost of redesigning labeling for previously approved products to which the proposed rule would apply and submitting the new labeling to FDA for approval. In addition, one-time and ongoing incremental costs would be associated with printing the longer labeling that would result from additional required sections. These costs would be minimized by applying the amended requirements only to newer products and by staggering the implementation date for previously approved products.

Risks: None.

Action Date FR Cite
NPRM  12/22/2000  65 FR 81082   
NPRM Comment Period End  03/22/2001    
NPRM Comment Period Reopened  03/30/2001    
NPRM Comment Period Reopening End  06/22/2001    
Final Action  09/00/2002    
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: Yes  Government Levels Affected: Undetermined 
Small Entities Affected: Businesses  Federalism: Undetermined 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
Agency Contact:
Lee D. Korb
Regulatory Counsel
Department of Health and Human Services
Food and Drug Administration
Suite 3037 (HFD-7), Center for Veterinary Medicine, 7519 Standish Place, Room 164, MPN-4, HFV-200,
Rockville, MD 20855
Phone:240 276-9258
Fax:240 276-7692

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