Changing medication packages could help patients follow prescriptions, study suggests

COLUMBUS , Ohio Distributing prescription medications in specially designed blister packages rather than in bottles may increase the likelihood that medications will be taken properly, a new study suggests.

The study found that patients taking lisinopril a medication used to treat chronic high blood pressure were more likely to have their prescriptions refilled on time if the medication came in a blister package rather than as loose tablets in a bottle. In this case, the blister package clearly started the day on which to take each pill.

Moreover, diastolic blood pressure was reduced in nearly half of the patients who received the drug in a blister package, compared to fewer than 20 percent of those participants who received bottles of medication. Diastolic pressure measures the pressure of the blood between heart beats, while the heart is resting. In a typical blood pressure reading of 120/80, the diastolic pressure is 80.

"This suggests that a better system of packaging for medications helped people take their medications properly, said Philip Schneider, the study's lead author and a clinical professor of pharmacy at Ohio State University.

He presented the findings on May 16 in Washington , D.C. , at the American Heart Association's Sixth Scientific Forum on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke. Schneider conducted the study with Ohio State colleague Craig Pedersen, an associate professor of pharmacy, and with John Murphy, of the University of Arizona .

The researchers referred to the blister packs that were used in this study as "pill calendars." Like traditional pill calendars usually a plastic box with individual compartments that can hold pills to be taken each day of the week these blister packs included the day that each dose was to be taken.

Blister packages are cards in which individual pills are put in small plastic bubbles, and then backed with foil.

Contact: Philip Schneider
Ohio State University

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