Overcoming the Obstacles of Medication Adherence

Today it seems like there is a pill for everything. One to make you lose weight, another to make you gain. One to make your hair shiny, and still another to make it grow thicker. Many of these so called “miracle” pills don’t really help even when people do everything that the manufacturer recommends. However, people still take them faithfully and strictly adhere to the exact directions in hopes of a good outcome. It really isn’t a surprise that no one has any problem taking “miracle” pills. If only the same were true for people who actually need a prescription to maintain or control a serious medical problem.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the following is true of patients in the United States:

  • 20 to 30 percent of new prescriptions are never filled by patients
  • Medication is not taken as prescribed 50 percent of the time.
  • For patients that are prescribed medications for chronic diseases, after six months, the majority take less medication than prescribed or stop the medication altogether.
  • Only 51 percent of patients taking medications for high blood pressure continue taking their medication for their long-term treatment.

Despite the many medical advances today, some things cannot be cured with surgery, diet or exercise. Some diseases unfortunately can only be managed or kept at bay with regular medication. Just a few examples:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Thyroid Disorders
  • MS
  • Allergies
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Depression

Without proper medication adherence, many of these diseases can interfere with a persons’ day to day living. It can put them at risk of further illness, or worse. So even though most patients know the risks, why do they still have trouble adhering to their medications? Sometimes it is the expense. Sometimes they don’t understand the directions, or are too lazy to go fill the prescription, but in many cases it is just plain forgetfulness.

In the case of forgetfulness, there is a product on the market that will help both patients and caregivers in making sure that medication is taken regularly and properly adhered to, and that is a blister card. Our Multi-Med Home Care Kits  are easy to understand and easy to use blister cards. They can help patients eliminate spills and determine at a glance if a dose was missed. Patients can also see when prescriptions are running low so they can order refills, avoiding gaps in adherence. The kits can be filled in six easy steps and even have ample space for recording notes for side effects or patient conditions.

Helping Patients Achieve Medication Adherence
Drug Package would love to help you or your loved one improve your medication adherence by helping you maintain or reach a healthy lifestyle. If you are looking for a method to keep your medication regimen, check out our Multi-Med Home Care Kits here, or call our friendly customer service representatives. We are always looking for innovative ways to improve medication adherence. Contact us today to learn more.

Drug Adherence: The Impact of Off-Label Prescribing

Imagine you’re a professional musician who starts experiencing stage fright. You make an appointment with your doctor, explain the situation, and expect to be prescribed an anti-anxiety drug. Instead, the physician prescribes a beta blocker medication designed for cardiac patients. It’s a prescription error, right?

Probably not. Using medication off-label may seem risky and counterintuitive, but the practice occurs in doctor offices and hospitals across the nation with striking regularity. According to Consumer Reports, “One in five prescriptions in the U.S. is for a use not approved by the FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration].”

It’s not surprising. Just as pharmaceuticals can have negative side effects on more than one part of the body, they can hold therapeutic benefits for more than one part. It so happens that beta blockers can banish stage fright by the same action they use to manage cardiac arrhythmias: blocking epinephrine and norepinephrine adrenergic beta receptor sites.

What is surprising is another statistic from Consumer Reports regarding off-label prescribing: Most [off-label prescriptions] (about 75 percent) are for a use that lacks any evidence or rigorous

studies to back it up.” For some patients, this aspect of off-label prescribing negatively impacts drug adherence.

Off-Label Prescribing and Drug Adherence

If most off-label prescriptions are dispensed without persuasive scientific backing, does that mean they’re prescribed on anecdotal evidence alone?

Not necessarily. Returning to the example of the musician, doctors know that reducing the excitatory effects of epinephrine and norepinephrine can induce calmness. This is what makes a beta blocker like propranolol a good option for treating stage fright, which ignites the body’s fight-or-flight response that is driven by the interaction of epinephrine and norepinephrine.

Doctors may know this information like the back of their hand, but most patients don’t. On the prescription label, they witness an appropriate use of an off-label medication. But if they take time to read the prescription flyer, they find nothing about using the prescription to treat their condition. The result?

Some patients trust their doctor and comply. Others resist adhering to the medication. Pharmaceuticals are based on science, and they want scientific proof that a drug is therapeutic for their ailment before swallowing a single pill. Among the patient population that holds this view, off-label prescribing can negatively affect drug adherence in a profound way.

Because the FDA prohibits drug companies from advertising medications for off-label use, the burden of improving off-label drug adherence falls mainly to physicians and pharmacists.

With the help of drug adherence resources — particularly informational prescription labeling and brief but informative drug counseling at the doctor’s office and pharmacist’s window — doctors and pharmacists can promote adherence and the positive health outcomes it predicts.

About Drug Package

Drug Package has over 133 years of experience in providing pharmacies and other healthcare entities with cutting edge labeling solutions, innovative medication packaging, custom print solutions, and more. To inquire about our products and services, please call us today at (800) 325-6137, or send us an email through our contact form.





Medication Adherence: What it is and Why it Matters

When patients receive a prescription from a responsible physician, they get the medicine in the strength and on the dosage schedule required for optimal treatment. However, unless patients are in the hospital and taking medication under watch, whether they adhere to pharmaceutical treatment is up to them.

Those who don’t adhere — willfully or otherwise — frequently experience negative health outcomes. The condition the medication is prescribed to treat often becomes more severe. It seems that every patient whose health relies on medication would be careful to avoid a negative outcome by practicing medication adherence. But statistics from health authorities show non-adherence is more pervasive than some think.

According to a recent report from the American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM), “Nonadherence to medications is estimated to cause 125,000 deaths annually [in the U.S.]… Overall, about 20% to 50% of patients are nonadherent to medical therapy”.

The situation is stressful for patients, as well as their doctors. In all but the most critical health situations, physicians don’t “force feed” medications. In most cases, the most they can do is hope patients who waver in and out of adherence — or who are non-adherent from the start — adopt a new philosophy of self-care, one that involves medication adherence to improve health.

Reasons for Non-Adherence

Reasons for medication non-adherence range from how patients personally feel about taking pharmaceuticals to group traits that apply to the non-adherent patient population at large. According to the ACPM, some of the most common reasons for medication non-adherence are:

  • Limited English language proficiency
  • High drug costs, copayments, or both
  • Severity of prescription side effects
  • Complex medication regimen
  • Lack of knowledge about the health problem

These are just a few of the many predictors of non-compliance, but they reveal an important characteristic of all non-compliance predictors: Some factors can be addressed by solutions from parties in the healthcare process, while other factors must be addressed by patients.

For example, patients must decide if they can afford a medication, and whether they can tolerate bothersome side effects. However, complex medication regimens and a lack of knowledge can be addressed with simple blister packaging.

At Drug Package, LLC we specialize in providing these solutions and others to promote medication adherence that benefits the health of patients and the bottom line of medication providers. Our solutions are designed with you and your customers in mind to support good health outcomes.

About Our Company

Drug Package, LLC has over 136 years of experience in supplying pharmacies, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and doctor offices with innovative packaging, cutting edge labeling technology, custom printed products, and more. All of our medication-related solutions can be customized to promote medication adherence, while maintaining the integrity of your brand and business.

To inquire about our products and services that support medication adherence, please call us today at (800) 625-6137, or use our contact form to send us an email. We look forward to serving you!

3 Medication Compliance Issues Blister Cards May Help Manage

Each year, poor medication compliance is responsible for countless negative health outcomes that create millions of dollars in unnecessary healthcare costs, and result in preventable deaths. According to epill.com, “75% of adults are non-adherent in one or more ways… The economic impact of non-adherence is estimated to cost $100 billion annually.” In addition, “Studies have shown than non-compliance causes 125,000 deaths annually in the US.”

Lots of money has been put toward researching ways to solve medication compliance issues, but one effective method of improvement is highly affordable for hospitals and pharmacies: Blister cards, which can be used to address the medication compliance issues below.

  1. Reading Information

Patients with compromised eyesight may be unable to read the small text with which most prescription labels are printed. For these patients, receiving medication in the form of a blister card, with ample space for label dosage instructions can help increase compliance.

  1. Taking Multiple Doses

It’s hard enough to remember to take several pills once a day. Remembering to take several pills multiple times a day can be challenging even for people who don’t have memory impairment, and almost impossible for people who do. Medication blister packs can feature multiple blisters for a single day, and list the time of day when the medication in each blister should be taken.

  1. Missing Monthly Refills

Missed refills are another major cause of medication non-compliance. Sometimes, patients willfully avoid refills due to medication side effects or lack of insurance coverage. But there’s also a significant population of patients who simply forget to request refills. Having medication organized in daily doses can help create a routine,  and since blister packs lay out all the medicine in advance it is more obvious how much time is left before a prescription needs to be refilled. When a patient recognizes they only have a week’s worth of medication left, it should prompt them to order their refill. Notes can even be made on blister cards to remind a patient to refill on a particular date.

About Our Company

For over 135 years, Dug Package has supplied pharmacies, hospitals, physician offices, and other parties in the healthcare industry with packaging solutions that support good health outcomes, and help prevent avoidable healthcare costs. We also supply dynamic packaging solutions for general business use.

To inquire about our products and services, or to place an order, please call us today at (800) 325-6137, or fill out the contact form on our website. We look forward to providing you with solutions for eliminating medication compliance issues.


3 Ways Pharmacists can Help Seniors With Medication Adherence

pharmacists-medication-adherenceMedication adherence occurs when patients take prescribed medicines in strict accordance with the directions of the prescriber. There are various reasons why people who need prescription medicine don’t comply with physicians’ directions, but patients age 65 and older comprise an exceptionally large population of patients who fail to take one or more medications as intended.

Medication Non-Adherence Among Seniors

According to a CVS Health report from late 2014, “[In] U.S. individuals 65 years old and older who use medications, researchers found that 51% take at least five different prescription drugs regularly, and one in four take between 10 and 19 pills each day. 57% of those polled admit that they forget to take their medications.” What can pharmacists do to combat these statistics and help seniors become medication adherent? Below are three strategies that can make a difference.

  1. Pharmacist Counseling

The CVS Health report referenced above states that pharmacist counseling “[has proven] highly effective in helping patients change their behavior.” Consequently, CVS “developed the infrastructure and systems to better support one-on-one personalized counseling in [CVS] retail pharmacies”. The infrastructure and systems are a comprehensive resource that allows CVS pharmacists “to interact with millions of patients and make significant improvements in adherence.”

The pharmacist counseling program CVS developed (a.k.a. Pharmacy Advisor) can serve as a model for independent and corporate pharmacies to develop a similar resource. Such a resource makes it easier for seniors to receive important information that improves medication adherence. Instead of making a doctor’s appointment and waiting days to receive crucial advice, patients can simply call their pharmacy or walk in and speak with their pharmacist.

  1. Special Medication Packaging

Conventional pill vials whose safety lids help prevent children from opening them can also prevent certain populations of seniors from opening them, as well, particularly populations that suffer from advanced arthritis in the hands, experience motor difficulties that result from a chronic condition such as Parkinson’s disease, or have a condition such as dementia that makes it difficult to remember how to perform basic tasks.

One way to circumnavigate deficiencies that make it physically difficult to access medication is to dispense medicine in blister packs, where each pill is contained in a plastic cell that has a foil backing through which pills can be accessed with minimal effort.

  1. Refill Reminders / Automatic Refills

According to a report from Pharmacy Satisfaction Digest, “Nearly one out of three pharmacy customers say they did not fill all their new prescriptions during the past year, and 27 percent indicate that they did not refill all of their prescriptions.” Of these customers, 84 percent cited forgetfulness as the main reason for not seeking refills on time.

Because many in the senior population experience forgetfulness as a symptom of a larger medical problem such as dementia, receiving refill reminders from their pharmacy or having the pharmacy automatically refill prescriptions and notify customers that prescriptions are ready is a simple measure that can have a positive effect on medication adherence.

Medication Packaging for Medication Adherence
At Drug Package, we don’t specialize in helping pharmacies create pharmacist counseling programs or perform refill reminders / automatic refills, but we do supply innovative medication packaging (e.g., various configurations of blister packaging) that can synchronize with these resources to help improve medication adherence among the senior population.

For more information about our packaging options that can help seniors remain medication compliant, please browse through our product catalogues, or call us today at (800) 325-6137. We look forward to supporting your pharmacy in support of medication compliance among its customers.

What is Medication Compliance? Four Scenarios

what-is-medication-complianceMedication compliance is a term used to describe whether or not patients take medication based on the prescriber’s directions. Adherence is linked with good health outcomes, whereas non-compliance often leads to poor health outcomes. Because not all dosing regimens are the same, medication compliance must be evaluated based on how a medication is prescribed in terms of frequency and duration of dosage. Below are four examples of what we mean.

  1. Maintenance Medication

Maintenance medications are typically prescribed for the “maintenance” of a chronic health condition for which there isn’t a clear cut cure. Because management of the condition must be maintained, maintenance medications are often taken daily. Examples of maladies that require daily dosing to achieve adherence include: heart problems, clinical depression, and nerve pain. When maintenance medication is taken haphazardly, the malady typically increases in severity.

  1. Short-Term Medication

Short-term medication is commonly prescribed for three weeks or less. During the dosage period, the patient is often directed to take the medication daily — and, sometimes, more than once a day. Short-term medications are typically used for health conditions that are distressing but often resolve on their own. Common examples of conditions for which short-term medication is prescribed include: bouts of clinical anxiety, disabling muscle cramps, and the common flu.

  1. As-Needed Medication

Medication compliance for medications that are taken on a PRN basis is frequently difficult to judge. Patients often don’t take these medications daily — and, sometimes, weeks go by between doses. Therefore, the health of the patient is one of the primary determinants of adherence. Common examples of conditions for which as-needed medication is prescribed include: generalized anxiety that ebbs and flows, occasional joint pain, and heartburn.

  1. Single Dose Medication

Because most medications are prescribed to be taken more than once within a single course of treatment, single dose medications tend to be rare in the practice of general medicine. However, there are notable examples of medications that are commonly taken in a single dose, such as: bowel cleansing solutions that prepare patients for lower endoscopies, anti-anxiety medications that are prescribed for a single, stressful event, and experimental meds for professional test trials.

Need to Improve Medication Compliance?
If so, applying protocols for adherence should begin with understanding the frequency and duration of dosage for the medication in question. Drug package can supply your hospital or pharmacy with medication labels and patient chart labels that clearly identify this information. In addition, we can supply blister card packaging that makes it easier to take medication as directed and thus helps to improve medication compliance across all patient populations.

To inquire about our labeling solutions that are designed to help improve medication compliance, please call us today at (800) 325-6137, or refer to the contact page on our website. If you already know what you need, simply select it from our product pages and place your secure order online from the convenience of your computer. We look forward to providing you with prescription labels and packaging that help to increase medication compliance.

Medication Adherence: Patient Populations That Need Assistance

organize-medicationMost people who receive prescriptions don’t need special assistance taking the medicine as prescribed, but there are also individuals who need extra help to achieve medication adherence. These persons often fall into groups that are described as “patient populations” based on their special needs. Below, we take a look at four patient populations that commonly need assistance with medication adherence, and what dedicated pharmacists can do to help them achieve it.

  1. Patients With Complex Dosing Schedules

Complex dosing can be made simple with blister packs. Many types of medications are taken once daily, but there are also medicines that are used several times a day. This is often difficult to keep to such a schedule and wonder if you missed a dose. Blister packs are perfect for noticing at a glance if you missed a scheduled dose. Pharmacist can help by providing blister packs that will organize the medicine and contain dosing information.

  1. Patients That Experience Motor Impairment

Some patients that experience motor impairment have a hard time removing the safety cap on conventional prescription bottles. The problem is especially common among seniors that experience progressive arthritis in the hands. A pharmacist can help this population achieve medication adherence by dispensing medication in blister packs that have a thin, foil backing that is easy to break. Because the medication is easy to remove, it becomes easier to take.

  1. Patients That Deal With Memory Problems

In some cases, medication non-adherence is caused by memory problems. The customer literally forgets to take the medication and thus jeopardizes his health. This issue is especially common among people who experience memory deficits due to dementia or Alzheimer’s, but who can manage most of their affairs due to the early stage of the disease. Medication packaging that outline the specific time of day to be taken is an ideal solution for this population.

How We Help Pharmacists Help Customers

For over 100 years, Drug Package has helped pharmacists serve various patient populations, including ones that experience barriers to medication adherence. We can assist your pharmacy in helping these populations remain adherent to the prescriber’s directions by providing blister packs that provide easy visible reminders for dosing times, and blister packs with easy punch dosage.

Medication non-adherence does more than jeopardize the health of your customers. We’ll provide you with innovative medication packaging that can help organize your patient’s medication. For more information about our packaging, browse through the product pages in our online store, or call us at (800) 325-6137. We look forward to helping you help your customers remain adherent!

Pharmacies and Patient Adherence: How Can They Work Together?

Trying to treat patients who don’t follow doctors’ orders can be a stressful experience for physicians. However, doctor offices aren’t the only parties that play a role in patient adherence. Pharmacies can also play an essential role in helping patients remain compliant with prescribed treatments, and thus have a discernible impact on patient health outcomes. For this to happen, pharmacies must have patient adherence protocols in place, particularly the five listed below.

  1. Providing Custom Medication Packaging Options

Dispensing medicine in custom medication packaging, such as blister packs, can have a positive impact on patient adherence among certain populations. For patients who want to take medicine as prescribed but have difficulty remaining adherent, packaging that helps eliminate barriers to proper dosing can prove extremely helpful.

  1. Maintaining a Clear Line of Contact With Customers

How easy is it for your customers to speak with a live pharmacist by phone on short notice? Do they have to listen to a long introduction by a computer generated voice before they can select the option to speak directly with the pharmacy? If so, consider implementing a hotline that customers can call when they need immediate assistance concerning medication issues.

  1. Facilitating Unique Prescription Refill Needs

Most prescriptions are refilled on a monthly basis, but there are also situations in which customers can benefit from receiving refills on a weekly or biweekly basis. For example, for a patient who has abused scheduled drugs in the past but needs to take a scheduled prescription for a current health problem, receiving small, weekly refills can help encourage adherence.

  1. Communicating Prescription Benefit Programs

One of the biggest barriers to medication adherence is cost. If a patient can’t afford medication, he or she can’t be compliant with the prescriber’s recommendations. Pharmacies can help solve this problem by apprising customers of prescription benefit plans, such as AstraZeneca’s patient and prescription assistance programs, as well as state sponsored programs that offer assistance.

  1. Providing Independent Pharmacy Services

Medication services that are typically associated with independent pharmacies, such as medicine compounding and ordering brand name or prescription medications from various pharmaceutical manufacturers, can also have a discernable impact on adherence. The more that medication dispensing is tailored to customers’ unique needs, the greater the chance of adherence.

Need Custom Medication Packaging Options?
If your pharmacy is committed to improving patient adherence, using custom medication packaging options such as blister packs can be essential for achieving the goal. At Drug Package, we provide readymade and custom blister packaging solutions that are designed to help pharmacy customers remain compliant with their prescriber’s recommendations.

Our products are especially helpful for patient populations that exhibit a low level of medication compliance due to complex dosing schedules, motor impairment, memory problems, and the desire to receive more information about a prescription than your average customers. For assistance with selecting the best medication packaging options for increasing patient adherence among your customers, call us today at (800) 325-6137 for professional advice.

What Can Pharmacists do to Improve Medication Adherence?

pharmacistPhysicians are prescribers of medicine, but pharmacists are the gatekeepers of the medicine they prescribe. Consequently, pharmacists play a pivotal role in ensuring that patients receive needed prescriptions and take them as directed. One aspect of this role is packaging medication in a way that makes it easy to take as prescribed. There are several ways to do it, one of which is dispensing medicine in blister packs that separate pills into compartments.

The Benefits of Blister Packs
Blister packs are commonly used for patients who need additional assistance with taking their prescription on time and in the right amount, but anyone who takes medicine regularly can benefit from a blister pack. Blister packs allow patients to easily dispense medicine and will help anyone keep their medication organized. Everyone gets busy at some point in their lives with work, errands, family and even travel. Keeping up with medication is often even more critical during such busy times. Unlike medicine bottles, blister packs fit easily in a purse, suitcase, or pocket, making transport easier, and the great thing about a blister pack is you can tell immediately, just by the package whether or not you took your dose.

Pharmacies are always looking for ways to improve medication adherence for their patients and especially in cases where medication adherence is often lacking. For these populations and the pharmacist, blister packs can yield the following benefits.

  • Improved health outcomes for patients
  • Fewer patient questions for the pharmacist
  • At a glance, see when the last dose was taken
  • Easier medicine transport
  • Save room in the medicine cabinet

Does Your Pharmacy Participate?
The majority of your pharmacy’s customers probably don’t require medication packaging to improve medication adherence, but those that do can benefit greatly from receiving a customized approach to packaging medicine that helps them comply with prescribing guidelines. Offering blister packaging to these patients is a simple way to encourage them to comply.

If your pharmacy doesn’t participate in using blister packaging to improve medication adherence, now is the time to consider packaging in blister cards for patients who have exhibited difficulty complying. To receive information about our blister pack solutions, call us today at (800) 325-6137. To inquire about price, visit the Request A Quote page on our website.

We look forward to supplying you with our best in class blister packaging solutions!