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Packaging the problem of patient adherence

"Worse, improved compliance may actually undo previous clinical studies which have built-in assumed compliance levels."


DR Steven Carden, PA technology and innovation expert

Frances CookPharmaceutical Technology26 March 2012


PA’s Dr Steven Carden, technology and innovation expert, is extensively quoted in Pharmaceutical Technology. The article addresses smart packaging in the healthcare industry, which can enable patients to manage their medication more easily (patient adherence). Steven gives his view on the link between packaging and patient adherence.

Steven explains that an obstacle he faces when working with pharmaceutical companies is that while numbers stack up against non-compliance, there is not much evidence to prove that there is a direct link between intelligent packaging and improved patient adherence.

Steven says: "We have lots of conversations with pharmaceutical companies and CROs (Clinical Research Organisation) about the development of intelligent packaging solutions."

Steven continues: "But even if we are talking to a passionate champion of intelligent packaging, what we so often hear is that they struggle in their organisation to get any traction because there is no hard evidence to prove it has any return on investment. There is really only anecdotal evidence to suggest it helps with patient treatment regimes."

Steven goes on to argue that pharmaceutical companies do not have a direct link to make an investment that could affect their profit margins: "If, for example, the NHS took a view and stated that intelligent packaging would reduce the billions they pay out against non-adhering patients, then that would be a massive change and companies would have to address it."

Steven explains that pharmaceutical companies are doubtful about the future of the smart pill: "For existing drugs, companies would have to go through the entire process of proving the validation of their product again, along with proving that the metal sitting in the bottom of a patient's stomach isn't going to make a medical problem even worse."

Steven continues: "Worse, improved compliance may actually undo previous clinical studies which have built-in assumed compliance levels. It begs the question of how disruptive is adherence technology to what pharmaceutical companies are already trying to do?"

The article mentions PA’s ‘Inhaler of the Future’ concept which was presented last year. The article notes that the device engages with the patient, issues personalised doses, monitors the patient’s environment and sends the analysis to the healthcare provider.

You can read the article in full here.

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