How pharma packaging innovation is helping pharmacists boost medicine adherence

Dealing with the issue of non-adherence in pharmaceuticals



Rich Quelch
10/04/2018

Pharmaceutical packaging innovations

Despite a patient-centric approach being part of daily pharmacy practice, medicine non-adherence remains a serious and far-reaching issue.

Research suggests around half of patients who are prescribed medication don’t comply with recommended adherence advice in some way, contributing to the untimely deaths of 200,000 people each year in the EU.

Source: Pixabay

While traditional methods such as pill reminder charts, questionnaires, and educational leaflets continue to work well, innovative packaging designs and delivery systems are making compliance simpler for both patients and pharmacists.

Empowered through data

Community pharmacists are at the coalface of medicine non-adherence and the majority will be all too familiar with the end result: poor health outcomes and wasted medicine.

With normally only a few minutes for each consultation, technology is playing a crucial role in helping to ease the pressure on pharmacists.

“Smart” blister packs are becoming more common, utilising a built-in microchip to capture use-related data and remind patients when the next dose is due. The data collected from these packs can then be accessed by pharmacists to give a clear picture of a patient’s medicine-taking behaviour at home.

Another good example of innovation in this area is smart wireless pill bottles used primarily for the treatment of cancer. Each bottle incorporates a wireless cellular chip and sensors which collect real-time adherence data. In the case of a missed dose, the system sends an automated alert via text to the patient, caregiver or pharmacist.

Putting patients in the driving seat

Compliance technology won’t succeed in boosting adherence if patients don’t understand how to use it. It also won’t help patients who are intentionally refusing to take their medicine properly, or at all.

Source: Unsplash

Pharmacist-patient relationships must not lose the human element. Face-to-face conversations remain essential in equipping patients with the knowledge to benefit from adherence devices, to give them the confidence to manage their medical needs long-term and feel able to report any problems.

Not all patients will have the same level of digital literacy. As the perimeters of pharma packaging expand to include on-body and mobile devices, a tailored approach is needed by pharmacists to assess digital competence and consider the best product for every individual.

Ethical considerations

Since adherence devices obtain data from patients and makes it available to third parties, from an ethical perspective, patients will need to give their consent for their use-data to be collected and shared.

Dispensing pharmacists are in a prime position to observe patterns from use-related data and cross-compare this with face-to-face consultations. If data collected from medical adherence tech uncovers adverse side effects which weren’t seen during clinical trials, pharmacists have an ethical obligation to report such findings to the relevant manufacturers and bodies.

Non-adherence is a complex issue and there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. However, ultimately these technologies will have an impact on the working lives of pharmacists by improving health outcomes, reducing wastage and cutting costs.

By Rich Quelch, Global Head of Marketing, Origin

About Origin

With a dedicated Pharmaceutical Packaging, Logistics and Innovation Centre in East Yorkshire and offices in London and New York, Origin has over fifty years of experience in keeping consumers safe.

Its expert teams design, manufacture and supply world-class innovative packaging solutions, specialising in child resistant designs and intelligent track-trace technologies wherever they are imbedded within packaging.

The organisation plays both commercial and not-for-profit roles, its ultimate aim being the prevention of accidental child ingestions and empowering brand owners to fight the counterfeiting of medicine products. These activities support the company mission statement; Origin - bringing healing home.

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