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Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Packing Sourcer

Braille Labelling

In 2005, European Directive 2001/83/EC was introduced which stated that all new pharmaceutical products must include Braille and by 2010 all existing pharmaceutical products will have to follow suit. This was then refined by Directive 2004/27/EC. For pharmaceutical companies, such Directives represent a real investment in both time and money in order to meet the legal requirements of the Directive and the needs of the visually impaired community.

The Directive will have an immeasurable impact on the lives of the 20,000 or so people in the UK who choose Braille as their preferred reading medium, but it presents a number of challenges to pharmaceutical manufacturers and their packaging providers. Braille is a complex method of printing, and in order to satisfy legal requirements pharmaceutical companies will need to take a number of steps to ensure that their packaging provides functionality for both the sighted and the visually impaired users.

Broadly, the Directive sets out that the name of the product, its strength (if more than one strength is available) and the form of the drug (if both tablets and capsules are available), must be printed in Braille on the product’s outer packaging. Clearer specifications which relate to the height, size and spacing of the dots have not yet been standardised.

HISTORY OF BRAILLE

The Braille alphabet was devised in 1821 by Louis Braille. The system was developed from a code demanded by Napoleon, which would ensure soldiers could communicate silently at night. Charles Barbier, the original inventor of the night code met Louis Braille, who identified that the original code was too complex to be read easily. The six-dot cell positioning which is used today was thus born, revolutionising written communication for blind people.


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John Haworth is Sales Manager for Ditone Labels, part of the Clondalkin Group. He has worked in the printing industry since 1981, and with Clondalkin Group since 1989. He is a member of the British Standards Braille Panel PKW/0-02- F3 that prepared the UK standard DD264:2007 for Braille on Medicinal Packaging which was published in 2008.
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