Medicine That Goes Beeeeeep

Published January 1, 2004

A medicine container that goes “beeeep” when it’s time for another dose, a computerized drug dispenser, and a special cap that counts the number of times you have taken your prescriptions are some of the new twenty-first century aides for patients who need help taking medicine correctly. These aides are listed in a catalog from the National Council on Patient Information and Education (

Pharmacies carry simple drug containers with compartments labeled for meals and bedtime, some with Braille. Spoons and syringes are clearly marked with doses for liquid medication.

While pill containers help to organize medicines in advance, it’s a good idea to ask the pharmacist whether the container will affect the stability of your medicine.

Even with one day’s poor storage, tablets containing certain drugs could break down. It depends on where the medicine is stored and how sensitive it is to moisture, light, or oxygen. Pharmacists consider a medicine’s sensitivities when selecting the prescription container.

According to Dr. Timothy Grady, vice president and director of standard development at the U.S. Pharmacopoeia, storage can be a significant problem when you carry medicine around in a poorly sealed container under high humidity.

Carrying medicine around in your pocket next to the body can raise the temperature. When some medicines break down they may no longer dissolve properly.

Talk to your pharmacist.

IT’S YOUR HEALTH is written by Conrad Meier, senior fellow in health policy at The Heartland Institute. This program is produced as a public service by Radio America. Meier passed away unexpectedly on March 18, 2005.