Why are tablets in finicky blister packs? - GulfToday

Why are tablets in finicky blister packs?

Birjees Hussain

She has more than 10 years of experience in writing articles on a range of topics including health, beauty, lifestyle, finance, management and Quality Management.

She has more than 10 years of experience in writing articles on a range of topics including health, beauty, lifestyle, finance, management and Quality Management.

Illustrative image.

Illustrative image.

Pharmacists in the UK have finally realised that medication in those blister packs are finicky and are now opening and dispensing them into bottles for customers who find them impossible to open.  You see, not everyone retains full dexterity in their hands. Some people lose a fair amount of it as they get older. With age can come, sometimes but not always, a gradual loss in steady hands and strong fingers that have the ability to hold on to objects or open or unseal things.

But sometimes age isn’t always a key cause for loss of such functions. There are numerous conditions that can come on at any age and cause a reduction in such functions and the ones that spring to mind are rheumatism, rheumatoid arthritis and repetitive strain injury.

My father suffered very badly from the former from a very early age and was literally unable to open a bottle or packet of anything that had a tricky seal without help. Nor was he able to lift anything that was heavier than a bottle of water.

And some years back I developed acute tennis elbow in my right arm. For eighteen months I was virtually unable to use it. I had no grip in my hands so I could not even lift a file, I could not open a bottle of water. I could not pour myself anything and I had a very hard time driving because holding my hands up to the steering wheel was also very painful. In fact, I could barely sleep comfortably at night because I was told to keep my arms raised. With all that going on, do you think I was able to open a blister pack of Panadol to kill the pain in my arm? No.

If we think about it, a lot of goods out there are not packed for those whose ability to open them has been compromised by age or an ailment. Most are sealed more tightly than a bank vault or Fort Knox. Most cannot be opened with just your fingers. Most require an implement, like a pair of scissors or good sharp knife. Think about a pack of batteries or a new pair of scissors.

For hygienic reasons, I understand the need for goods being sealed so that they don’t open so easily during transit, storage and handling. That being said, some goods are not tamper proof as can be seen from the way some items are half open or have been opened by customers who clearly want to have a sample. I’ve come across half open rolls of baking foil, cling film, cereals, soap bars, hand creams and even surgical gloves all of which are supposed to be germ free. I’ve even come across bars of chocolate where the chocolate itself is fully exposed to the shelf on which it is lying, to people’s hands, and to their sneezing and coughing.

I’ve even seen women wrapping themselves in open bath towels to see how big they are! In my view, if a bath towel has been wrapped around a person’s body, even if both are dry, it is no longer a new towel. These things can easily happen in large supermarkets where goods and people are not monitored until both get to an exit.

What I don’t fully comprehend is the need to have most medication in blister packs. When I was living in the UK, whenever I, or anyone in my family, was prescribed medication or painkillers, they always came in sealed bottles. If the seal had been broken, you’d know. One of the jobs of a pharmacist was to dispense medication in the name of the person for whom the prescription had been written. He or she would pop them in bottles and label them with the date, the name of the patient and the dosage.

The point I’m making is that I don’t recall struggling to open a bottle of medication or dropping a tablet from a blister pack while opening them. Why are Panadol or ibuprofen in blister packs? Why are all antibiotics in blister packs? Their seals can very easily break just by pressing on a strip. I’ve often found single Panadol tablets rolling around the bottom of my handbag because they must have accidentally popped out of the blister pack when items were being popped in and out.

These packs might be considered hygienic but at the same they are not.   What’s wrong with having these medications in a bottle? By now you might be considering transferring your meds into a spare medicine bottle. But before you do, take this into consideration. Will breaking the seal of the individual tablet going to reduce its efficacy over time? It might and then again it might not. It really depends on why the pharma put it in the blister pack and not into a bottle. So, as always, it’s best to ask your pharmacist for advice.

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