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Braille Medicine Labels Introduced in Korea

Editor's Note: Editor's Note: The following article is reprinted with permission from the Korea Herald, February 2, 2002.

Two pharmaceutical firms will begin selling medicines with braille labels for the first time in Korea, officials with the Ministry of Health and Welfare said yesterday.

Officials said Aronamin Gold, a multivitamin, and Optgent, a brand of eye drops, will be available with the braille labels at the end of the month.

Ildong Pharmaceutical Co. and Samil Pharm. Co., the manufactures of Aronamin Gold and Optgent, respectively, will bear the between 9 and 30 won in additional costs for the use of braille. In the case of Ildong Pharm., the new packaging is expected to cost the firm about 60 million won per year.

The adoption of braille by the pharmaceutical firms came about as the ministry and organizations for visually handicapped people sought cooperation from the pharmaceutical industry.

According to the Korea Blind Union, which represents 250,000 visually handicapped people in Korea, misuse of medicines among visually disabled people is prevalent.

The organization's survey of 324 visually handicapped people in 2000 showed that 27.6 percent had misused medicines due to inability to read the labels, and 4.3 percent of those had to be hospitalized.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare said it is determined to make efforts to encourage pharmaceutical firms to expand the use of braille on medicine labels, not only those frequently used by visually handicapped people such as eye drops and insulin, but also more common medicines, such as those used in the treatment of inflammations and ulcers.

The ministry recently implemented a revised pharmaceutical law that includes a clause encouraging the use of braille on the labels of medicinal products.

An official of the Korea Blind Union said the adoption of braille by pharmaceutical firms will do more than help blind people in everyday life.

"We expect the occasion to help the general public gain deeper understanding for visually handicapped people by coming across braille letters," the official said.