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Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Packing Sourcer

The Other Drug Problem

Hot in the pursuit of adequate advances in medication regimens, Tassilo Korab argues packaging design can contribute to patient compliance

Patient compliance with medicinal therapy is an issue of increasing concern to public health, costing the health insurance industry and the taxpayer enormous sums of money, and putting at risk many patients’ lives. Investigations show that approximately one third of patients take their medicine as prescribed, one third take some as prescribed and one third do not take any at all. Noncompliance leads to 10 per cent of hospital admissions and 23 per cent of nursing home admissions. The various investigations into the subject estimate the costs directly linked to non-compliance to be in excess of US$100 billion annually in the US alone.

Packaging has an undeniable influence on compliance and the safe application of medicines. The various functions of packaging will always have to find a compromise between numerous objectives and conflicting interests. Drug packaging can either build barriers between the patient and the medicine, or can enhance compliance by incorporating features and functions that help patients follow the therapy plan.

Medicinal therapy can only be beneficial if the patients adhere to the regimen. This applies in particular to modern drugs which, according to the ever increasing efficacy of the active substances and the consequently reduced contents of those in the tablets, require a higher level of compliance.

KEEPING COMPLIANT

Patient compliance is an issue as old as medicinal therapy itself. Hippocrates warned: “To keep watch for that fault in patients which makes them lie about the things prescribed.” Today, patient compliance has become the best documented, but least understood health related behaviour. In 1989, the US National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE) coined the phrase ‘America’s Other Drug Problem’ and since then, other organisations have adopted this phrase when referring to medicine misuse.


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Starting his career as an International Sales Manager, Tassilo Korab has been in the packaging industry for more than 20 years. He has concentrated on patient compliance, standards and regulations for child resistant packaging and the war against counterfeits. As a recognised expert in flexible packaging, he holds a MSc in Healthcare Management, as well as having written several publications. Tassilo is Managing Director of TKM HandelsgmbH, Vienna, Austria, a consulting company in the sector of Flexible Packaging for the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. He was one of the co-founders of HCPC Europe, the Healthcare Compliance Packaging Council. He has been representing the organisation first as funding member and member of the board and, since September 2005, as Executive Director.
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Tassilo Korab
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