- Medicine Information and Evidence for Policy > Information and Publications
- Medicine Access and Rational Use > Rational Use
(2005; 165 pages)
A product that is easier to use can have a benefit for patients. For example, smaller tablets, fewer daily doses, oral instead of subcutaneous administration, or shorter treatment duration could increase the likelihood of patients adhering to the treatment regimen. There might be benefits for the health service if a new product is easier to administer (e.g. oral instead of intravenous, thus saving staff time and reducing use of equipment) or safer (e.g. a preparation of a cytotoxic drug that does not need reconstituting before administration). Other aspects to consider are storage requirements (especially in warmer climates), the quality, safety and ease of handling of the packaging, and risk of errors due to similar packaging for different drugs or dosages. For examples of packaging evaluation, see the French bulletin la revue Prescrire and the English language edition, Prescrire International (Prescrire Editorial Staff. Drug packaging quality: neglected by regulatory agencies. Prescrire Int 2005;14(77):114. Also Prescrire Editorial Staff. 2004 Packaging awards. Prescrire Int 2005;14(76):66.), and patient information leaflets (risk of medication errors due to inadequate, non-understandable, non-updated information).
However, bear in mind that easier use may come at a price: fewer daily doses mean long absorption and/or elimination half-life. Consequently in some patients the blood concentration of the drug may increase due to accumulation, and high levels may persist even after the drug is stopped - leading to serious adverse reactions. For example, toxic epidermal necrolysis can be caused by various drugs; seizures can be induced by slow-release theophylline. In general, easier use can be a net disadvantage if the harm/benefit ratio of the medicine for patients increases.