When I got up this morning, I had to open a new packet of the anti-histamine tablets I take every day. Wrapped around them in the box was this tightly-folded information sheet, which I have unfolded. I didn’t bother to change the photo to portrait orientation, as I doubt anyone is actually going to read it. (But if you want to, you can enlarge the photos, and incline your head.)
Two pages of closely-typed words, containing charts, ingredients, side effects, contraindications, and warnings of all kinds, as well as a disclaimer. They are inserted into the tiny carton in such a way as to make it impossible to slide out the pills without revealing the sheet around them. This got me thinking of course. Every packet of tablets we have in the house comes with a similar sheet inside. Whether Paracetamol for headaches and fevers, or Ibuprofen for muscle and joint pains, whatever type of off-the-shelf drugs bought legally in a chemist’s, shop, or supermarket, they have to contain such a sheet, apparently.
Does anybody ever read them? If you have a headache or other pain, would you really be prepared to plough through all that small print before popping the pills into your mouth, in hope of relief? If you take something every day to combat an allergy, as I do, then do you need to read about all this stuff? So what if it tells you not to take all 30 tablets at once? I was never about to do that in the first place. And if I had been careless enough to let the box fall into the hands of anyone silly enough to do that, they probably wouldn’t be old enough to understand what it says anyway.
This is a monumental waste of time and expense, as well as paper and ink. No doubt driven by some obscure laws or regulations designed to absolve the seller, and the manufacturer, of any responsibility should you fail to observe any of these warnings and instructions. The packet of tablets cost less than three pounds, and will last me for a month. That’s good value, so I am not complaining about the price. But I do wonder how much of that includes the time and money spent preparing and adding those leaflets to the millions of packets of tablets sold every day.
So I am thinking aloud about why they just don’t type some simple text onto the boxes, and cut down on the images displayed on them. Then they could do away with the nonsense of these leaflets.