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Which pill when: Medicine packaging that aids compliance in taking prescribed drugs

Mawle, Richard; McGinley, Chris


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Dr Richard Mawle
Senior Lecturer in Product Design Engineering

Chris McGinley


GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the industry partner in this project, was concerned about the problem
of non-compliance in taking drugs. It prompted them to initiate this study into the means by
which compliance could be integrated into medicine packaging. Many compliance aids have
been introduced on the market but the problem of non-compliance persists. At an annual
cost is estimated at £60 billion worldwide. Mawle undertook the first year of the study and
was joined by McGinley for the second and final year of the work during which the user
network was expanded further to include, among others, medical professionals. At the outset
of the study, existing compliance solutions were analysed. The exploratory design studies
which followed generated a range of off-pack memory aids. A user group of 12 people was
formed and their usage patterns observed. These provided key insights into common patterns
of user behaviour. As part of the study, the compliance problem was ‘deconstructed’, and
three design proposals emerged: the Access Pack, which included an access aid as an intrinsic
part of the packaging; the Moving Pack, incorporating a diary and a special detachable
box to support discreet use of packaging when on the move; and the Remind Pack, with
a collection of prompts that can be placed around the house as personal reminders. These
formed the centrepiece of a special compliance kit produced at the end of the project. It
provided design guidance on the issue to GlaxoSmithKline’s in-house design teams. The case
study demonstrates how in-depth research into long-standing problems can open up hitherto
unexplored integral, low-tech solutions to provide high-value solutions.


Mawle, R., & McGinley, C. (2004). Which pill when: Medicine packaging that aids compliance in taking prescribed drugs

Report Type Project Report
Publication Date Jan 1, 2004
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords medical non-compliance, prescription pills and medicines, medication users, compliance aids, design guidelines, packaging


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