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Some drug packages depend on hearing acuity to indicate whether or not they are empty.
Whether the bottles are made of glass or plastic, hard-of-hearing users can’t tell whether or not they’re empty, and what’s worse, whether or not they’ve taken their medicine.
For hearing-impaired users, opaque bottles that spray medications into nostrils or dispense eye drops are challenges.
“I usually don’t feel the stuff I’m spraying into my nose, so when I think it’s empty, I shake the bottle to find out. I used to think that if I didn’t hear the liquid slosh, the bottle was empty. Then I tried it after only one use and I couldn’t hear anything then either.”
Hearing loss is widespread among seniors and has an impact on how they buy and replenish drugs. It’s hard to get comprehensive data on the extent of hearing loss in the United States, but a recent Consumer Network survey called “Is 70 the new 50?” asked shoppers 50 years old and older to compare their current mental and physical functions with what they had in their 20s. Most agreed that they looked and felt 20 years younger than their parents had at the age they were now, but 46% said that their hearing had deteriorated significantly, and 69% said their vision had deteriorated.
Since many people who have hearing loss are known to deny it, it’s safe to assume that more than half of seniors over 60 have a hearing loss that could affect the way they perceive and replenish drug packages, and many have deteriorated vision.
“I wish they’d put a see-through panel on the opaque plastic packages.”
“They need some kind of indicator that tells you it’s empty.”
“I had a prescription nose spray that came in a brown bottle with a big label covering up most of the bottle. It is very difficult to tell when it is empty, and I’ve decided to try to do without it.”
As healthy consumers age, they’re faced with dozens of health issues like decreased hand strength that make handling packages more time-consuming and cumbersome. Here are a few challenges:
• Lining up embossed arrows to pop off the lid.
• Reading the small print on the label and on the inserts.
• Pushing the pills through foil overlays.
• Grasping the tabs that are supposedly there to help users open the package.
Consumers have also started taking issue with the environmental wastefulness of complex and multi-layered packages, and have started demanding country-of-origin information for their drug products. Here are a few more comments:
“The drug companies have gone way overboard on tamper-evident packaging.”
“Most drug packages are virtually impossible to open without work, swearing and fingernail breaking. One of the worst offenders, waste-wise and creating serious frustration, is Roche, the maker of Boniva.”
Opportunities for increasing customer satisfaction appear to be growing at a time when drug companies could use a few rounds of applause.
Now Hear This (If You Can)
By Mona Doyle
Mona Doyle is the CEO of The Consumer Network Inc., a firm that regularly takes the pulse of consumers on packaging issues. She publishes The Shopper Report newsletter. Contact her at 215-235-2400 or Mona@ConsumerNetwork.org.