10. Campaign Corner

Don’t worry I won’t be burning my bra or tying myself to the railings, but I might make a placard.

Neuroscientists, Researchers and lots of very clever people are trying to find a cure.  I am confident that the person who discovers a cure will, at the very least, get a very nice Certificate.

But more than awards or monetary gain, they will have the heartfelt thanks of my friends and family who have had to put up with me harping on about ‘awareness’ for the past four and a half years.

So a cure would obviously be the ultimate.

But in the meantime there are a few points which I would like to raise in Campaign Corner.

Just in case you have glazed over and have no interest in reading this post further, and the lure of a spot prize for reading to the end is not enough (and is a fib anyway), then I will say the following : ‘Why did the chicken cross the road?’

Prescriptions :

  • Bob over 60 has MS and, quite rightly, gets free prescriptions
  • Arnold under 60, has MS and, quite rightly gets free prescriptions
  • Mitch over 60, has Parkinson’s and, quite rightly, gets free prescriptions
  • Ralph under 60 has Parkinson’s and, WRONGLY, has to pay for prescriptions

Everyone over 60 gets free prescriptions.

Everyone under 60 has to pay for prescriptions, apart from a selected list of circumstances/conditions.

I have to take medication for life to enable me to play an active role in society, but as I have early onset Parkinson’s and am under 60 I have to pay for prescriptions.

I do however buy a prepayment prescription card, so I can get as many prescriptions as I like with the card by paying upfront – whoopee.  Each item is £8.40, that’s not per prescription, that’s per item.

So if you are asked about free prescriptions for all please tick the box and say yes – thanking you.

Medication Tablet/Packaging Stylists :

The not so small print : I am assuming that there is a department in Pharmaceutical companies for designing the tablets and packaging.  Apologies if I  am making incorrect assumptions about tablet/packaging designs.  This is a personal blog and  I can only write about my personal experience with medication, other people may have different experiences.

A bit of background on medication development (see NHS website for more information).

To develop a new medication it takes :

  • 10-15 years
  • Four stages of trials
  • Over £1 billion

If I understand it correctly the original developer of the active ingredient has sole dispensing rights for a period of time.  After which it becomes available to be produced by other companies, using the same active ingredient.

With this in mind I have drafted the following letter :

Dear Tablet/Packaging Stylists

The Researchers and Neuroscientists spend a lot of time and money developing medications – they have the power to make a life changing difference to people’s lives.

However, another vital part of a medication’s development is the design of the tablet, blister pack and outer packaging.  You may not appreciate it, but this also has an impact on people’s day to day life.

A scenario : (although the scenario is true, the tablet/box details are made up).

Imagine you relied on taking a tablet a day to manage your condition, to allow you to operate in society.

Imagine you have shaky hands, bad co-ordination and difficulty moving your fingers, especially when you are nearing the next dose of your medication.  Finally a drug is produced to help manage your condition, and is now produced by several companies.

In January you collect a months supply from your pharmacy of the wonder drug, they are :

  • Labelled in big letters on the outer box : ‘Mopsy Medication’.
  • In a purple box.
  • Tiny, fiddly, green round tablets.
  • The blister pack is a good size and easy to get the tablets out.

They work well, so the next month you collect your supply of the same medication.  This time they are :

  • Labelled in big letters on the outer box : ‘Twill Tablets’
  • In an orange box.
  • Small, flimsy, green rugby ball shaped tablets.
  • The flimsy tablets are tightly packed in the blister pack, and often snap as you struggle to remove them.

The tablets and packaging look completely different, but they contain the same active ingredient and do the same job.

The pharmacy reassures you they contain exactly the same active ingredient.  You also suffer from stress and anxiety which exacerbates your symptoms, and the random change in tablet/packaging design throws you completely.

Now imagine you take four different types of tablet, five times a day.  Each tablet could be different each month from different manufacturers.

Once medication is allowed to be produced by other companies, I appreciate they want their product to be differentiated from other suppliers of the same medication (after all they have the same active ingredient and do the same job).  However, I think that the only place your company identity should be shown is the outer box, everything else should have continuity between manufacturers.

Outer box: If your company choses to name it after Great Aunt Mabel and her favourite colour was mauve.  Then ‘Mabel’s Magnificent Medicine’ in mauve packaging is absolutely fine.  It has no affect on me at all.

After that you must consider the person living with the condition.

As follows :

The actual active ingredient name should be very very clear on the outer box.  It is confusing if I have to read the tiny print to find out actually what the active ingredient is.

Blister packs : These should be easy to open and have room round the tablet to get them out in once piece.

Tablets : They should have continuity, so when an active ingredient is patented, surely the shape and colour should be as well for continuity.  They should also be easy to swallow and not so flimsy that they snap too easily.

If the same tablet is a different size/colour/shape depending on the manufacturer, this can be at best confusing and at worst dangerous.

So you, the packaging/tablet stylists, can help people living with the condition, by designing tablets and packaging which does not add any more stress to our lives.

Thanking you.


‘To get to the other side.’