Increasing use of QR codes for medicine information

Luto QRcode

As smartphone use continues to increase, access to the internet via a mobile device has overtaken that of desktop PC’s. This means that QR codes now present an opportunity for Pharmaceutical companies to provide patients and health professionals with additional supporting information that they can access electronically anywhere via their smartphone.

As a result of an increased demand for guidance, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recently published guidelines to support Pharmaceutical companies who want to include QR codes with their medicines. QR codes can be used in a number of ways, including:

  • downloading an electronic version of the information for the user to carry with them
  • accessing related statutory documents such as the Summary of Product Characteristics (SmPC)
  • linking the user to a website or video that includes more information
  • inviting the user to try an App that will help them use the product.


A QR code should be placed so that it can be easily found by the user and fits into the information already included in your labelling and leaflet.  We also recommend that you include your QR code on any materials that undergo User Testing so that you can get feedback on their readability. The EMA may request that you User Test the information that the QR code links to.

While using a QR code can help your information reach people quickly, there are some groups who might not have access to a smartphone. For these people, a web address should also be included that they can refer to. There are still some groups who do not regularly use the internet and for these you could consider having a paper copy of the information available to send out on request.

For further detailed information, refer to the full EMA guidance.

More about QR codes

QR is short for “Quick Response” code. It is a two-dimensional barcode that can be read using a smartphone with a camera or another QR reading device. A QR code holds information about the object it is attached to and can link to a piece of text, an email, phone number, website or video. It can also connect directly to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

QR codes were initially created in Japan to track parts in the vehicle manufacturing process and were subsequently adopted with enthusiasm by brands and advertisers.

There are lots of tools available to experiment in creating QR codes, for example we used QRcode-monkey to make the QR code above that contains a link to a video. You can find QR code readers freely available for Apple and Android phones.

Luto can provide guidance on the use of QR codes for medicine information, contact us to find out how we can help you.