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Eric Althoff
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Supporting adherence through packaging

For our antimalarial treatments, we wanted to create a universal packaging design that could be used and understood globally, ensuring the medication is taken properly by patients.

Together with the World Health Organization (WHO), we developed an innovative packaging for our antimalarial treatment. In addition to written instructions, the packaging uses pictograms that remind patients of how many tablets to take when, and color codes describing dosing regimens for different body-weights. The packaging also helps explain the importance of completing the full treatment course.

This is particularly important in areas with varying levels of education, where illiteracy is common, and the disease transmission is high.


Pictograph instructions shown from a treatment package for infants and children from 5 to <15kg bodyweight: one tablet of 20mg/120mg at the time of initial diagnosis, one tablet again after 8 hours and then one tablet twice daily (morning and evening) on each of the following two days (total course comprises 6 tablets of 20 m/120 mg).

The packaging of our formulation for infants and children was further enhanced to better assist with the identification of the correct pack, and support treatment adherence, with images of malaria parasites decreasing in number as the three-day course progresses.

The Novartis Malaria Initiative worked with PSI, a global health organization with programs targeting malaria, the Zambian Nurses Association, the University of Oslo, the KEMRI-University of Oxford-Wellcome Trust collaborative program and the WHO to develop this innovative packaging.

The packaging underwent extensive field testing with healthcare providers, caregivers and patients in various rural African villages. The field testing, implemented by social scientists, demonstrated that the packaging was conducive to proper dosing and patient compliance.

Further, the blister packs were strengthened, using a moisture-barrier film to protect the tablets and guarantee their stability and shelf life even in hot, humid conditions.

The packaging received the “Drug Packaging Design Award” from the Healthcare Compliance Packaging Council in 2009.