HCPC announces its Compliance Package of the Year

AstraZeneca's Seroquel XR sample kit takes top honors

An annual tradition since 1995, the Healthcare Compliance Packaging Council’s Package of the year winner, this year, is a blister-carded 14-day sample kit from AstraZeneca, for its Seroquel XR (extended release quetiapine), an “atypical antipsychotic” for treatment of a variety of mental health conditions. First Runner-Up is Eli Lilly’s Strattera (atomoxetine, for ADHD) physician’s sample pack, and Second Runner-Up is the Exforge HCT blister package. Novartis’ Exforge HCT (amlodipine, valstartan, hydrochlorothiazide) is indicated for high blood-pressure treatment and is taken daily. The awards were announced at HCPC’s RxAdherence meeting (March 31, Florham Park, NJ).

All three products make use of package designs from MeadWestvaco (Richmond, VA); specifically the Dosepak design for Strattera and the ShellPak Renew for Exforge. Packaging Coordinators Inc. (Phildelphia) is the contract packager for Strattera and Exforge.

Compliance (or “unit-dose”) packaging—typically blister cards but including other methods to dispense drugs on a one-by-one basis have obvious value for sample or starter kits; both the Seroquel and Strattera kits include carefully laid-out processes for titatrating appropriate dosages for patients beginning therapy. For Seroquel, noted John Grinnell, managing director, Secondary & Adherence, MWV Healthcare, in a statement, “The initiation of this medication regimen is complex, with daily doses and numbers of pills adjusting throughout the titration process. Both patients and providers needed a hands-on tool to help guide medication initiation.

A number of patient-support features also stand out among these award winners. The Strattera package includes patient education facts regarding ADHD as well as information directing patients to a supporting website to establish an online goal-setting progress resource, as well as information for prescription savings for the patient. The Seroquel package has a multi-panel insert (instead of the usual loose leaflet) for convenient storage and reading.

HCPC has been on a years-long campaign to encourage broader use of compliance packaging, which has been demonstrated in numerous tests to raise adherence levels, especially for patients with chronic conditions. Pharma marketers try to justify the higher expense of compliance packaging with that better adherence rate; nowadays, the effort is being boosted by healthcare providers and pharmacy benefit managers who want to lower healthcare costs through better adherence. A paper recently released by HCPC, with sponsorship from Bilcare Research, highlights another advantage: better stability and shelf life for pharma tablets that are kept in low-moisture, controlled environments by means of blister-card packaging.

The Compliance Package of the Year winner and the First Runner-up will be asked to designate HCPC donated scholarship funds to a university-level packaging school focused on the pharmaceutical industry.