medication in blister card

How Blister Packaging Helps Improve Medication Adherence

medication-adherenceTo put it simply, medication adherence is a term that applies to patients who take the recommended dose of a medication that a licensed physician prescribes to them. At first glance, medication non-adherence only seems to affect the health of the patient. However, it can also have a significant impact on the bottom line of pharmaceutical companies, pharmacies, and healthcare providers, potentially costing them billions of dollars annually in lost revenue.

Causes of Medication Non-adherence
Common sense suggests that, if patients have medical problems that are serious enough to make them visit a doctor, they would be eager to take medication that eradicates or significantly alleviates their health issues. However, many patients decide not to take the medication they receive, or choose to take a smaller dose than a doctor prescribes. There are numerous reasons why patients refrain from medication adherence. Some of the most common ones are:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Cost of medication is more than expected
  • Efficacy of medication is less than expected
  • Desire to avoid potential side effects
  • Multiple doses must be taken daily
  • Failure to understand dosing instructions
  • Unwillingness to take medication permanently

As one would expect, pharmaceutical companies, pharmacies, and healthcare providers are interested in solutions that mitigate medication non-adherence, and help to close the care and revenue gap that the phenomenon creates. In some cases, surprisingly simple solutions, such as dispensing medication in medication pill cards instead of traditional pharmacy vials, can have a dramatic impact on a patient’s medication adherence over the long-term.

How Medication Blister Packaging Helps
Compared to traditional pharmacy vials, history has shown that blister packaging is indeed an effective way to increase medication compliance.

Consider the case of Walmart. In 2012, the company began implementing high-quality blister packs to dispense medication in pill form, with impressive results. According to Ron Sassine, Walmart’s senior director of packaging for private brands, “What we see in a treatment pattern is that the patient is very diligent at the outset of that regimen. But we start to see a lack of adherence weeks and months later. So the real beauty of this type of a pack is it provides a physical printed reminder and an opportunity for consumers to see whether a dose for a certain day has been taken or not.”

Sassine goes on to say that Walmart’s medication blister packs “really [give]—and we have seen the medical literature that supports this—a strong uptick in patient adherence to medical dosage.” In terms of revenue streams, Walmart’s blister packaging project demonstrates the effectiveness that skillfully designed blister packs can have on the finances of pharmaceutical companies, healthcare providers, and pharmacies.

The “strong uptick in patient adherence to medical dosage” that Sassine speaks about ultimately means that healthcare providers can prescribe a larger volume of medication, pharmacies sell a larger volume of prescriptions, and pharmaceutical companies experience a higher demand for products. As long as blister packs comply with packaging requirements, pharmacies can also receive revenue under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the form of bonus payments — disbursements that are based on the five-star rating system for Medicare Advantage plans.

Intelligent Packaging is Essential
Achieving a higher rate of medication adherence with blister packaging involves more than merely using this style of medication dispensing. In order to be highly effective, the packaging must be designed to provide the best end user experience concerning a particular medication and the patient demographic that typically receives it. This is where Drug Package can help.

As our name implies, we specialize in developing drug packaging solutions that benefit all parties involved, and are leaders in the production of blister packaging technologies that aid both pharmacies and patients. For more information about improving medication adherence with blister packaging, call us today at (800) 325-6137, or email us at