Friday, March 18, 2011

Drug Adherence Technology - Who is it really for?

There is technology that exists now that can pinpoint adherence rates down the the exact drug class and county. There are millions being invested in technology that identifies non-adherence probability in individual users. There is no doubt there is now more then enough data out there depicting exactly who, where, and when people are not complying to their medications. Great- we also know who, when, and where obesity rates are climbing- but is that helping the problem at all? They keep climbing.

It does not matter how many times a person is reminded to take medications if the experience is bad. Lets  take those "smart" caps that track adherence through a vial for example. A perfect instance of the end user not being considered. So lets say you are on three meds- you really want a cap blinking, buzzing, or sending "reminders" 3 to nine times a day?  Plus you still have to open the vials 90-180 times a month!? That is not a practical solution to the patient at all. In fact it may even decrease adherence rates by making it even more of a hassle.

Want a mobile phone app sending you emails 3-9 times a day? Of course if you don't have your pills with you at the time it doesn't matter anyway- you can still forget by the time you get home. A fine line between a reminder and spamming.

How about the "auto" pill dispensers that come with a instruction sheet designed for engineers. The 69.99 to 199.99 price points don't help either. Don't get me wrong- there is value to these items- just perhaps not as much as a person may think- and they only work for a very small subset of medication users. The last thing I want to do is discourage innovation, but what I do want to do is make sure we are keeping the patient in mind when creating them.

Obviously there is merit in using technology to increase adherence rates- but if the people creating it are not keeping the true end user in mind my advice to them is to stop. In the end- this is patient driven, and unless your technology actually improves the medication management experience- what is the point?

Most mobile or software based adherence tracking technology are simply creating a database big Pharma will use to promote their drugs more in that particular region. Yes, there are more uses for this data then for Pharma to get more leads, but I am just trying to be realistic. The people really making a difference are the caregivers, NP's, pharmacists, and educators of the world- people caring about people.  Lets keep innovating, moving forward and doing everything we can to help the person actually using the drugs get better.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Strange behavior- check the meds!

If someone you care about suddenly exhibits a change in behavior the first place to check for the root cause is the medication regiment. Not taking the right dose, missing doses, or taking the wrong medication can cause all sorts of issues.

Caregivers can use this checklist when doing a medication review:
1.     Are they taking medication prescribed to them?
2.     Is the prescription current? (as opposed to an old vial stashed away in a drawer)
3.   Is the dosage correct or does it need to be modified? (consult your doctor)
4.   Is the medication being taken properly- the right dose at the right time?
5.   Is the prescription being renewed on time to avoid gaps in the regimen?
6.   Is there a clear understanding of the side effects of the medications if there are any- and are all the interaction warning be followed. For example if you are not supposed to eat before taking the medication is that being followed?
7.   Is there some sort of organizational tool you or they are using to help manage the medications (like pill boxes!)
8.   Does the person still need to be on the medication? Are there better alternatives? (definitely consult your doctor)

Two other things that can really help are to make sure your are being prescribed medication by the same doctor when possible and even better, try to use the same pharmacy when filling them. Establish a relationship with the pharmacist so you can ask the appropriate questions.

These simple steps may eliminate the change in behavior, or in the very least rule out medications as the cause. Hope this helps!


Tuesday, January 11, 2011


This week I will be giving away a free pill box to those that are interested in trying one. This is a basic model in some fun colors that are perfect for someone on one or two prescriptions that don’t require a lot of multiple dosing. A model like this is great for on the go, or for taking to work. Also ideal if you are taking a daily vitamin.

Remember, the thing that makes a pill box so effective is that you can see if you took your medication or not- so it's easy to tell if you missed a dose. The other great benefit is that you can pre-load your weeks worth of meds (usually on a Sunday) so you don’t have to hassle with your vials all week. Helps you get organized and commit to taking your medications properly.

(Odds are you will want a larger pill box or AM/PM model if you are managing a lot of medication.) There are all sorts of shapes sizes and colors available at your local drug store.

These pill boxes are for all ages (12yr or older) and suitable for storing virtually any pill type.

I have a limit of about 50 on hand, first come first serve, and will send them out the following Tuesday 1/18 via standard USPO. (I can not guarantee 100% the color you chose will be available- will do my best.)

Any comments you could post about your experiences with managing medications, or pill boxes, is always very much appreciated!

Pictured below is the model you will receive- standard large contour bottom 7-day pill box.

To get your pill box simply email with your name, address and color choice. (Navy, Lt Blue, Green, Purple, Red, Yellow) If you have a spouse who you think could also use one, I have no problem sending two. These are of course brand new pill boxes, just not packaged for retail.

Thanks and enjoy!

Pill Box Guy

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Keep it Neat and Discreet

Not everyone likes to advertise the fact that they are on medication. Anti-depressants, sleeping disorders, ADHD, anxiety, viagra, and many other medications often carry social stigmas with them.

If you or a family member (especially teens) are sensitive about the medication they take I suggest trying a trendy opaque pillbox. The last think I want is someone not to take their medication correctly due to concerns about privacy. These are perfect for people who want to avoid snooping, yet have to take a couple of pills with them to work or travel. These dailies are also great for keeping extra pills in your purse or pocket for emergency use too. These are also my personal favorites because they are fun!

The one pictured below you can find at cvs, walgreens and I believe rite aid very soon. (can also check or request them at independent pharmacies) Every 9 months or so the designs will change to keep them fresh.
There are a variety of opaque pill boxes out there that make work for you, these are just great for casual prescription users- can also be used for mints, change, jewelry, or whatever.

Keep your meds neat and discreet!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Caregivers and Parents-save time with one of these!

If you are a caregiver, or parent who manages medications, using a pill box can not only help someone take the right dose at the right time- they can save you TONS of time and hassle.

Think of it this way- if you are managing 5 prescriptions that are taken twice daily- you have to open those vials over 300 TIMES A MONTH! By opening up the vials each time you dispense, you are also increasing the likelihood of medication errors. Vials look the same, and are easy to mix up. Sitting down once a month or week and pre-filling a pill box is one of the most cost effective and easiest ways to make sure your medications are dispensed correctly. You no longer have to worry about fussing with a drawer full of vials, spending time each day dispensing medication.

One of the best times to pre-load a pill box is on Sunday when you are planning the week. Most people use this time since it is often free from the stress or "white noise" of the other days of the week. Now you can concentrate on making sure the medication is correctly dispensed.

One of the most popular models of pill boxes for caregivers and people on multiple medications is the one shown here. You can purchase at any major drug store or retailer. These are perfect for pre-loading. Now all your week or months medication is in one handy spot. Plus you can easily tell if a dose was missed- something almost impossible to do with vials.

Remember to chose a pill box that works for your situation- and one you like! There are hundreds of shapes, styles, and sizes- all designed to make managing your medications much easier. And most are under 5 dollars!

I will go into more detail and helpful hints about choosing pill boxes in future blogs.

-Pill Box Guy

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How to pick a pill box part 1

Hopefully you have learned about your ailment and the medications you have been prescribed and you have committed to taking your medications properly.  Time to move forward- time to get organized!

Now its time for the fun part- picking a pill box that is right for you.

Some of the important things to consider before purchasing a pill box.

1. How many medications are you (or family member) on?
2. What are the sizes of your pills?
3. How many times a day do you need to take them?
4. Do you need to take your meds with you to work or travel?
5. Is privacy a concern?
6. How often do you want to fill your pill box?

Pill boxes come in hundreds of shapes and sizes and are available at most any drugstore. There are large selections of quality pill boxes at CVS and Walgreens if you shop there.  Target and Walmart too- by the pharmacy. You can get ones that are designed specifically for taking am/pm medications, 3 times day, 4 times a day, monthly, weekly and so on. There are some designed for travel, some that lock, huge ones, little tiny ones, dettachable ones, some for pets, teens, adults and elders......and some that are opaque so your medications are discreet.

In the end- it will come down to personal preferences, it can be something as simple as a color you like. The main thing is to get one that resonates with you and creates a positive feeling when you look at it or use it- something vials will not.

Next blog we will go into specifics of functionality that separate good pill boxes from bad ones.

-pill box guy

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Making a Rx list (and checking it twice)

Hello all,

While Santa is checking his list, we need to make sure we are checking our rx "list" too before we visit the doctor or start taking new medications. Here is a list of 3 simple things you can do to improve your medication management experience.

1. Educate yourself on your ailment if you have not already done so. That, combined with the valuable insight of your doctor or pharmacist should take a lot of the confusion and anxiety out of taking a new prescription. Get to know possible side effects so you are prepared in advance if you feel them. Some great resources for this are the disease database, this site can also guide you to bigger sites with more info on your specific issue.  The center for disease control is also good,

To learn about your medications try

2. Commit to taking your medications. According to a 2010 New York Times article 50% of Americans do not take their prescriptions correctly. Wow! Simply forgetting to take your medication is only a small component to this problem- it is much deeper then that. A person needs to hold themselves accountable for taking the right dose at the right time. One way to help motivate yourself is to think of the reasons "why" you are taking medications- for your family, to enjoy life more, to stay active, to be pain free, to play with your grandkids, ......... what's your reason?

3. Get Organized, Get Better. This is one of my mantras. If you are on 3 prescriptions that are taken twice daily you have to open your vials over 175 TIMES A MONTH! Right there it becomes a hassle and a roadblock. Free your pills from the vial and load them either weekly or monthly into a pill box. So now you only need to open them 6-24 times a month. Pre-planning a week or months worth of meds saves a lot of time and frustration- and is show you are committed to taking them! (Keep you vials all in one place if you need to reference them.) Pill boxes, planners, reminders, or whatever we want to call them are available at most every mass and independent pharmacy in all sorts of sizes and configurations. The biggest selection in the USA at retail is at CVS, but you might find a special one that resonates with you online or at Independent pharmacies. Companies like Apothecary Products, Inc (the company that made me!) are introducing designer and trendy "fun" pill boxes. There are versions for the entire family including kids and pets. Pick one that works well, but one that you like to look at too!

Over the next few blogs we will go in depth into why and how pill boxes work so well. Learn more about specific types of reminders and other medication management tips at:

Remember- Educate, Commit, Organize!

Have great holiday- don't forget your meds!