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Review: Reminder Packaging Can Help Medication Adherence

White pills in a prescription bottle (


A review of studies conducted in the past few years shows instruction reminders on medication packaging helps some patients more closely follow those instructions. The review, led by health sciences professor Kamal Mahtani of Oxford University in the U.K., appears in the current issue of The Cochrane Library (paid subscription required).

The analysis by Mahtani covers 12 studies with a total of nearly 2,200 participants, and updates a similar review conducted in 2006 with four new studies. The research includes randomized, controlled trials that compared a reminder packaging device with no device, for participants taking self-administered medications for at least one month.

The studies involved different types of packaging, and different medications for various health problems. On one measure of medication adherence — pill count — the analysts found reminder packaging increased the proportion of people taking their medications. The effect, however, was not large; increases ranged from 11 to 13 percent.

Mahtani and colleagues focused on two trials that tested patients’ blood pressure readings as well as medication adherence. The analysts found subjects with reminder packaging on their medications had lower diastolic pressure readings — the “bottom” blood pressure measure — while finding no differences in systolic readings.

The overall findings suggest reminder packaging offers a simple method that can help patients with some conditions stick to their medication regimens. More research is needed, however, to identify the more effective packaging devices and conditions where they can be applied.

Read more: Calendar Blister Packs Shown to Help Medication Adherence

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