Using a Unit Dose System for Pain Pill Counting: An Overview

In the healthcare industry, the term “pill counting” generally refers to one of two practices: counting pills in the pharmacy to ensure that prescriptions contain the right number of pills, or counting pills after they are dispensed to patients to ensure that they don’t overdose or underdose the medication, and thus jeopardize a positive health outcome for their pain situations.

Counting Schedule II Pain Medications
In this entry, we look at the second type of pill counting, which is commonly performed after a patient is prescribed a scheduled medication that has high abuse potential and a high dependency potential. There are five scheduled medication categories. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the higher a drug’s category, the more abuse potential and potential for dependency it possesses.

For example, most of today’s popular, opiate-based pain pills fall into Schedule II category due to the euphoric effect they produce when taken in sufficient quantity and the tendency of the drugs to make patients dependent on their pain relieving effect. Consequently, it’s not uncommon for physicians to count the pills in a patient’s pain medication supply to help ensure that the patient isn’t heading down the path of abuse or dependency.

Using a Unit Dose System for Pill Counting
One of the problems of pill counting that comes with counting pills in a prescription bottle is that patients can use a variety of reasons to explain why the pill count is lower than it should be. If you’re a physician who counts pain pills, you have probably heard the following explanations for why the pill count is too low, among others: the pharmacy accidentally dispensed too few pills, and pills spilled own the bathroom sink when the bottle was opened.

One of the easiest ways to prevent these accidents, and one of the easiest ways to prevent pain pill recipients from using them as fallacious excuses for overdosing on pain medication, is to place pain pills in a unit dose system in which each pill is contained in an individual plastic bubble that features a foil backing to simplify pill removal.

Each bubble can have a perforated outline that allows the bubble to be removed from the foil sheet containing the pills — a feature that allows patients who take multiple doses daily to remove a section of pills instead of carrying the entire unit dose system on their person.

For physicians, the configuration of the package makes it easy to see just how many pills a patient has taken in a given period of time. It also encourages responsible medication use on the part of the patient. Patients who abuse schedule II pain pills will have a difficult time explaining why more pills are gone than expected.

Need a Unit Dose System for Pill Counting?
Schedule II pain medications are often counted pill by pill when patients visit their pain specialist, as it helps them use the pharmaceuticals responsibly, and reduce the likelihood of abuse or dependence. For physicians and patients alike, dispensing pain pills in a unit dose system adds integrity to the medication management process in terms of pill counting.

Consequently, hospital pharmacies and retail pharmacies can play a crucial role in pain medication management by dispensing pain meds in a unit dose system. To inquire about specs and options for our unit dosing system products, call Drug Package today at (800) 325-6137. We look forward to helping your pharmacy support excellent health outcomes in patients who are prescribed powerful, scheduled medications to combat physical pain.