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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Appearance is Everything

Appearance counts. Packaging matters. One of my biggest pet peeves is a poorly labeled/packaged product being dispensed to a patient. I checked with my trusty intern and found my alma mater is still teaching this as an important representation of our professionalism. Maybe the OCD that courses through our profession is responsible for this. Apparently, however, some people are not possessed by this.
We only have to touch the bottles one time. Our patients have to touch them every single day. If we hand them a sloppy-looking product, they are reminded of this daily. It is their indicator of how professionally we approach their healthcare. If they look like crap, the impression the patient will have every single time they touch the bottle is that we are careless, hurried, and just don't care. (Okay, we are a tad rushed at times.) If we can't even "slap a label" on it professionally, how poorly are we acting where it truly matters?
To this end, there are two packaging issues I really despise: plastic bags and undersized bottles.
I don't know where or why the plastic bag thing originated but a lot of pharmacies employ this for blister packs and other, oversized packaging. I hate this. Every store I have ever managed or worked has done this...until I arrived. Street drugs are packaged in plastic bags. Yes, let's reinforce the drug dealer moniker we carry. It looks horrible. It's tacky. It's unprofessional. Please make it stop.
Second in line are the just-too-small-to-accommodate-my-label manufacturer bottles. (Effient, Crestor 40mg, Aciphex, Bystolic, just to name a few.) It's worse if you are going to require that your medication be dispensed only in this unopened bottle. The least you could do is make it large enough to be labeled. Our shelves are full of every size of bottle imaginable. Why did you select this one? You're a wee bit too small. I think the manufacturers are playing with us. "Let's force them to label this bottle. But we'll make it 1/8" too small for a full label. That'll mess with their OCD. Either it looks like crap or they have to cut it to fit." Bastards. On the crazy side I occasionally see a labeled Zetia bottle. Really? As a patient, that would frustrate the hell out of me. That bottle's only slightly larger than a single KCl 20mEq tablet. Who tries to label it? We all have our other favourites (most Sandoz products come to mind--Losartan and Omeprazole especially.) Unless the manufacturer requires original packaging, I prefer to repackage everything. It looks neater. It looks professional.

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