Pharmaceutical packaging for increased patient safety

Detachable dosage instructions ensure correct and safe use of medication

Human errors or misunderstood dosage instructions may sometimes complicate dispensation of pharmaceuticals. For example, patients on a once-weekly course of medication may have taken it daily instead, with serious consequences. This is why it is required that certain pharmaceutical products are provided with patient cards with clear dosage instructions. 

How it works in practice

A so-called fifth panel was developed for the pharmaceutical package. It is detachable, and keeps the tamper evident solution of the package intact. This solution enables normal product packing on the packaging line, and no additional investments are required. 

The fifth panel is a patient card which is detached at the pharmacy. Referring to the card, the pharmacist and customer go through the instructions and the prescribed dosages, marking the specific weekday when the medication must be taken on the card. This means that the customer does not have to rely only on the dosage instructions in the prescription label printed at the pharmacy. 

With a medication requiring a more frequent dosage schedule, the pharmacist removes and disposes the card from the packaging. In such cases, the information on the card is irrelevant and does not apply to the patient or medication. This solution can be used to provide additional information, e.g., to pregnant patients. The information on the card will be discussed with the patient at the pharmacy also in those cases. 

Economic opportunities and broader social significance

The Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has recommended new actions aimed at reducing medication dosage errors, so that the benefits of e.g. methotrexate-containing products continue to exceed any inherent risks. For this reason, it was required that the packages of oral medication for the treatment of certain inflammatory conditions or diseases should be provided with a patient card, which strongly specifies the correct once-weekly dosage of the medication. These measures improve patient safety and minimize possibly life-threatening situations caused by dosage errors. 

Further information

Jaakkoo-Taara Oy is a quality-driven packaging manufacturer for the food and pharmaceutical industries. Our products include packaging, brochures, instruction leaflets and labels. We have received the following certifications: ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management Systems, and ISO 14001:2004 Environmental Management Systems. 

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