and older who use medications,
researches found that 51% take at least
five different prescription drugs regularly,
and 1/4 take between 10 and 19 pills each day.
57% of those polled admit that they forget to take their medications.
Among those using five or more medications,
63% say they forget doses,
compared to 51% among those who take fewer medicines".
New designs for drug packages and plans for labels that are easier to understand aim to help people stick to their drug regimens.
New technologies include a bottle cap with a wireless chip that signals to patients if they are late in taking their medicine by triggering flashing lights and audible alerts.
Recent research has found that packaging pills in blister packs, rather than typical amber-colored vials, may be more likely to get patients to take their pills. Blister packs, in which each pill is enclosed in its own compartment marked with the day of the week, help remind people if they're up-to-date with their medications.
Meanwhile, the jumble of consumer information that accompanies medications—which may include a bottle label, an information sheet stapled to the bag, a package insert from the drug manufacturer and another insert sometimes required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration—makes it harder for patients to follow instructions.
Over the course of a year, patients using the blister packs refilled their prescriptions five days sooner on average than those using bottles and stayed on their medication 22 days longer, the study found. A Novartis spokeswoman says the company introduced a 30-count blister pack for Diovan HCT in July, after piloting the product with Wal-Mart beginning in 2009. Novartis is considering using this type of packaging with other products, she says.
Hayden Bosworth, a professor of medicine at Duke University, says more research needs to be done. Studies, such as the Novartis analysis, are observational rather than randomized controlled trials, he says. And evidence needs to be gathered that the additional cost of using blister packs is worth any potential gain in drug-regimen adherence, he says. Dr. Bosworth says he is currently working with MeadWestvaco to conduct a randomized controlled clinical trial that assesses the benefits of blister packs. The company estimates that blister packs cost as much as three times the price of a traditional pill bottle. (Más)