Package system makes compliance easy

The United States spends an estimated $100 billion annually on the combined cost of lost productivity and unnecessary medical expenses due to noncompliance with prescribed medication regimens. More than 50% of all prescription medicines are taken incorrectly, according to national surveys. But an Alabama study has found that a unique medication packaging and dosing system improved medication compliance by more than 40% above the national average.

Medicine-On-Time is a one-inch-square time-specific dosage cup that holds up to six pills. Each dosage cup holds the correct medications for one administration time, and is hermetically sealed and labeled with three items: the patient's name, the medication's administration date and time, and the contents of the dosage cup. Individual dosage cups are assembled and provided to the patient or caregiver in a five-row-by-seven-column array designed to look and function like a calendar. The system can be formatted for either a weekly or monthly cycle.

"Gone from your grandmother's nightstand is the confusing clutter of five different prescription bottles," says Ian Salditch, president of Medicine-On-Time in Owings Mill, MD. "The idea of the system is to eliminate a lay person deciding what it means to administer a medication three times a day. Do I have to get up in the night to take this? Did I remember to take that pill before lunch? The dosage packaging system is filled by a pharmacist who looks at the patient's entire therapy and makes decisions about administration time based on efficacy and information about the patient's lifestyle," he explains. "For seniors or AIDS patients taking five or more medications, this is a wonderful solution to confusion over how and when to take medication," says Salditch.

The packaging system also includes a physical description of the contents, he adds. "It indicates the name and purpose of the round, yellow pill, or that little green tablet."

More than 300 pharmacists nationwide currently supply the Medicine-On-Time system to their clients. The system includes computer hardware and software and the patented packaging system. It costs pharmacists roughly $340 monthly to provide the system, and adds little if any cost to the prescription, he explains. Also, because the pharmacist must fill each cup with all the medications for a single administration, it forces the pharmacist to pay attention to the entire medication regimen, says Salditch. In addition, the packaging system synchronizes renewal times on all prescriptions. "This means your client only has one trip to the pharmacy each month and never allows a prescription to lapse," he says.

Currently, the best way for case managers to get Medicine-On-Time to their clients is to encourage clients to request the system from their pharmacists, says Salditch. For more information on the system, contact: Medicine-On-Time, 10085 Red Run Blvd., Owings Mills, MD 21117. Telephone: (800) 722-8824. Fax: (800) 386-8788. E-mail: medtime@wwhs.com. Web site: http://www.wwhs.com/medtime/.