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Standing Rx packaging on its head

Introducing one of the first major changes in prescription packaging in a generation, Minneapolis-based Target Stores is attempting to reduce dosing errors by patients. With the May 1 launch of the ClearRxSM bottle in the pharmacies of its 1,330 stores in 47 states nationwide, the Target Corp. division once again blends function and style in a unique manner—but this time with a life-saving goal.

"Great design is so much a part of our DNA at Target," comments Mary Kelly, vp of Health & Beauty and Pharmacy for the retail chain. Target cites a survey showing that nearly six out of 10 adults in the U.S. have taken prescription medications incorrectly. Factoring in the estimated 3 billion prescriptions filled annually in this country underlies the system's rationale.

It's appropriate that the ClearRx system is the concept of designer Deborah Adler, born to a family of physicians. Her work on the package has resulted in a Master of Fine Arts Design, awarded by the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Adler now is a senior designer with Milton Glaser, Inc. (www.miltonglaser.com).

Telling PD she was motivated by what she knew to be the high level of dosing errors with the standard amber vial with a wraparound label, Adler says she thought great improvements could be made by reformatting the label layout with clarity and a logical sequence of information as primary criteria. She also ended up with an inverted bottle format within a vertical setting.

The new ClearRx label wraps over both sides of a transparent, tapered, Target-red-tinted polyethylene terephthalate glycol bottle that stands on its head, with oversized, child-resistant and continuous-threaded closures providing stability in the medicine chest. At the arc of the bottle's top, in large prominent letters, are the name and dosage level of the medication. Reading down the front of the label are what the company describes as the "Target Guest" name, the medication name and dosage form repeated, and the regimen in clear, concise language.

In descending order below are the quantity and the expiration date, the refill number, the physician's name, the dispensing date and code, the manufacturer's name and the National Drug Code number. Finally, at the base are the pharmacy's telephone number, the prescription number and the familiar red Target bull's-eye logo, name and address.

Providing all of this information on the front of the label frees the rear area for cautions and advisories, including medication directions and one other feature. Tacked on only three sides, the design enables insertion of a patient information card that repeats much of the information, plus a description of common uses for the drug, its possible side effects and what to do if a dose is missed by the patient—a summary usually supplied as a leaflet or attached to the sides of conventional vials. Rear-label warning icons are also redesigned.

The designer thought great improvements could be made by reformatting label layout with clarity and a logical sequence of information as primary criteria.

The bottle itself, with a front and back taper, is side-calibrated for liquid medications. It is designed by Klaus Rosburg, whose firm is Sonic Design Solutions (www.sonicny.com). Noting that Sonic is responsible for the design of the fabulously successful inverted Heinz Easy Squeeze(tm) ketchup bottle ( see PD, July '02, p.4 ), Rosburg sees the new ClearRx bottle design as aesthetically pleasing, naturally and ergonomically complementing Adler's label system.

There is one other component. This is a color-coded silicon ring, initially in six shades, for families with several members taking their own prescription medications, that snaps on the base of the bottle's neck. Each family member can have his/her signature-color ring for easier identification of multiple prescriptions.

The bottles are produced in three capacities—17 1/2-, 30- and 60-g—accounting for the vast majority of prescriptions, with 24-, 28- and 38-mm neck finishes.

Target and its agency decline to provide package specifications. However, a source informs PD that the bottles are extrusion/blow-molded by Kerr Group (www.kerrgroup.com), which also is responsible for the two-piece CR and CT closures fitted with foamed low-density polyethlyene liners produced by Tri-Seal, a Tekni-Plex company (www.tri-seal.com).

It may seem like icing on the cake, but Adler's ClearRx system reportedly will be exhibited in New York City's Museum of Modern Art later this year.

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