- Identify the drug facts label
- Learn the definitions of the terms on the drug facts label
- Know the importance of reading and understanding all of the information on the drug facts label
- Learn the potential consequences of not reading and understanding all of the information on the drug facts label
- Identify the steps to take in the event of a medicine mistake
- Using the Drug Facts Label printable
- Over-the-Counter Medicine Safety Classroom Poster printable
- Find a Drug Facts Label Scavenger Hunt printable
- Paper and pen or pencil
- Computer with Internet access and projector
- Medicine Safety for Families Newsletter printable
- Assortment of empty medicine containers that correspond to the Find a Drug Facts Label Scavenger Hunt printable (e.g. empty fever-reducer bottles, empty bottles of pain reliever, empty bottles of antacids, empty bags of cough drops, empty bottles of antihistamine)
- Optional: FDA’s Medicines in My Home video
- Optional: Be MedWise Interactive Label
- Emphasize to students that they should never take medicine without the supervision of a parent or trusted adult.
- Make copies of the printables for each student in your class.
- Set up a projector to show the FDA’s Medicines in My Home video.
Step 1: Ask students to describe a time when they did not follow directions and faced unpleasant consequences. Discuss responses and emphasize the importance of reading informational text in order to understand key information or directions that are vital to completing a task properly or getting the desired results.
Step 2: Explain that at times, you may have to look for directions, and you should always ask your teacher, parent, or a trusted adult to clarify them so you fully understand what to do.
Step 3: Explain that the class is going to learn about the importance of reading and following all of the instructions found on the drug facts label of OTC medicines.
Step 4: Organize the class into groups of three or four students and give one medicine container to each group. Distribute Understanding the Drug Facts Label printable.
Step 5: Show the FDA's Medicines in My Home video if possible. Pause it when necessary to highlight the different sections on the Drug Facts label and have students ask questions. In support of the video, have students look closely at the medicine samples they have in their groups.
Step 6: Ask students:
● Which medicine does your group have?
● Where are the directions on your group’s medicine bottle and what do they tell you?
● Where are the warnings?
● Where is the ingredients section?
Step 7: Explain that directions and drug information for OTC medicines are found on Drug Facts labels, which appear on OTC medicines per FDA regulation.
Step 8: Walk students through each section of the labels on the Understanding the Drug Facts Label printable. If you are using a whiteboard, project the image of the Drug Facts Label onto the board. Review the different sections of the label (use the Over-the-Counter Medicine Safety Classroom Poster printable to support the discussion).
Step 9: Have students refer to their medicine containers to reinforce the structure and language of the Drug Facts label. You may also project the Be MedWise Interactive Label onto the whiteboard and roll over each section as you review.
Step 10: Explain that students are now going to apply their Drug Facts label knowledge to a wide variety of medicines. Provide an assortment of empty medicine bottles, bags, or boxes, and the Find a Drug Facts Label Scavenger Hunt printable. Allow students to work with their groups to complete the activity.
Step 11: When students have finished, ask students to share some of the warnings and side effects they discovered on labels during the scavenger hunt. (Answers may include that medicines can be harmful if you take too much and can interact with other medicines to cause harm. Ingredients of medicines may cause allergic reactions or cause side effects like drowsiness or nausea.) Explain to students that when medicines are not used properly, real consequences, including serious harm, may result. Reinforce the importance of always communicating with a trusted adult before taking any medicine.
Step 12: Ask how many students noticed the Poison Help number, 1-800-222-1222, listed on the Drug Facts label. Explain that this number should be used if a student or his or her parent or a trusted adult has questions about how to take or give medicine, if there’s been a medicine mistake, or if there’s been an accidental ingestion of medicine. Inform students of the following:
● Calls are free.
● Calls are confidential.
● Experts answer the phone 24/7, 365 days a year.
● Unlike 911, it doesn't have to be an emergency to call. Call with questions or for information, or if you have an emergency.
● Poison center experts get more than 3 million calls a year about all kinds of things. They have heard everything, so don’t be embarrassed to call.
Provide students with the following prompt: Research the regulation that required Drug Facts labels to appear on OTC medicines. Write a paragraph to describe the regulation and identify some of the problems that it helped to address.
If you haven’t already, send home the Medicine Safety for Families Newsletter printable so students may continue the discussion at home.