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Improving Adherence through Medication Packaging 


The pill bottle is a pharmacist’s standard medication delivery container, effective in holding a large amount of medicine. When given to the patient, it’s up to the patient to remember when, how many and why to take their medication. Even when directions are clear on the label, factors like patient forgetfulness and bottle spills can cause medication adherence to suffer. Pharmacists can improve the quality of medication use by offering other packaging solutions.

Packaging options include:

Blister packaging- seals medications in sheets or cards and can organize multiple doses of medicine by time of day and day of week. Senior patients will benefit from clearly marked packages. When they see a punctured card, that can indicate that medication was opened at a certain time.

Strip packaging or pouches- These transportable packages can hold multiple medications and are clearly identified on the package with dosage and time of day.

Pill boxes/organizers– Your patient may be independent enough to set up their own weekly or monthly pill boxes. While many are manually opened and closed, some are more sophisticated. Some pill organizers include reminder systems that include digital clocks and alarms.  Pharmacists can set up medication reviews to assist their patients in reviewing these products.

The pill bottle + phone reminders- Sometimes the problem with medication adherence isn’t the container. The pill bottle can still be effective when combined with phone reminders.

  • Phone alarms- A patient can set up smart phone alerts and alarms for times to take their medication using built in smart phone settings and features.
  • Mobile medication reminders- Pharmacists should review medication reminder apps available for phones and find one they like best and promote it as a pharmacist recommended mobile application to their patients.

By offering alternative medication packaging options with or without mechanisms to prompt/remind the patient to take their medication, pharmacists can assist their patients in taking the right dose at the right time. Make sure to promote these services at your pharmacy, and you’ll be taking a big step towards improving medication adherence.

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