Update on the FIP pictogram project to improve health literacy

I would like to provide readers with an update of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) pictogram project.

FIP attempts to bring a high level of recognition to health literacy. The Military and Emergency Pharmacy Section (MEPS) of FIP undertook a major project in 2004 to develop clear, easy-to-understand prescription labels using pictograms. These labels contain pictograms that would accompany written and verbal health information for medicines.

After a few years of focus on the development and validation of pictograms internationally, and the development of the pictogram software, PictoRx, the project is gradually evolving towards the integration of pictograms into information leaflets to support medication counselling and the development of infographics to support medication counselling of specific diseases.

For the past few years, the FIP pictograms have been assessed for their comprehension and short-term recall in individuals with low, mid and high levels of health literacy. In 2015, FIP aimed to optimise the pictogram software by designing new storyboards and medication calendar outputs, and by making PictoRx easy to use anywhere in the world.

In the past year, we have translated PictoRx into 16 different languages, and agreements for collaborative work on the development and validation of pictograms were signed with Poland, Brazil, United States and Singapore.

The working group is currently working on an agreement with a pharmaceutical company to develop an illustrated instruction sheet for two of its medicines for epilepsy. A research protocol is currently being developed with the aim to test the comprehension of the pictograms for safer medicines management by healthcare, in which the relationship between short-term and long-term recall will be being examined.

Those interested in finding out more about the pictogram project and software should visit

Régis Vaillancourt

Adjunct professor in the division of pharmacy practice

University of Toronto

On behalf of the International Pharmaceutical Federation

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, February 2017, Vol 9, No 2;9(2):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20202060

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