Small packs of medicines to tackle issue of strip cutting: Experts propose

Sometimes brands with similar names cause danger to the patient, especially to the elderly patients

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Last Updated on September 26, 2021 by The Health Master

Indian pharma will need to come out with small packs to tackle the issue of strip cutting of medicines which has been a big problem for the pharmacy trade.

The cut strips are rejected by consumers and are also discarded indiscriminately in drains and open spaces resulting in long term environmental impact, according to industry experts.

According to Prof Hanumanthachar Joshi, principal, Sarada Vilas College of Pharmacy, Mysuru, cut strips always pose risk as name of the drug, contents and expiry date are not visible.

Sometimes brands with similar names cause danger to the patient, especially to the elderly patients. Therefore cut strips should never be dispensed by pharmacists.

A better choice would be to have small packs which is instead of 10 tablets per pack, it can be 2 -3 per strip. We see that the only way to offset the challenge would be from the pharma manufacturers’ end who will need to design and develop small packs, Prof Joshi told.

Agreeing with Prof. Joshi was Sunil S Chiplunkar, vice president, business development, Group Pharmaceuticals who said cut strips do not show the brand name correctly or the brand name may be absent in the portion of the cut strip.

This can lead to wrong dispensing or wrong consumption by the patient. The composition of the tablet or capsule is often not completely seen in the cut strip, making it difficult to even the confirm the composition of the medicine.

The choice of cut strips are coming to the fore because companies are bring out a strip of 30 tablets/capsules and even more. This does not make economic sense as it makes it difficult for full purchase by a patient. Now this aspect needs to be addressed by regulators and manufacturers, he added.

Anti-spasmodic tablets

In case of anti-spasmodic tablets, patient may require only 2 or 4 tablets, but the strip will be five so it becomes a waste of money to patient. Also some antispasmodic and anti-haemorrhagic tablets like tranexamic acid + mefenamic acid are expensive making it unaffordable for patient’s family to purchase 10 tablets at one go. There are instances where physician samples are also sold in cut strips, which is unethical, noted Chiplunkar.

Additionally billing is difficult for cut strips of medicines because it is a mix up of batch numbers. Regulatory authorities during their surprise inspections to pharmacy outlets, if they spot sale of cut strips becomes a problem because it could violate the rules of drug license, said Chiplunkar.

Moreover cut strips of antibiotics will encourage under-compliance and may contribute to antimicrobial resistance in people. There are also a section of patients who are reluctant to purchase medicines of cut strips.

Several instances of these cut strips being discarded incorrectly either by the pharmacy trade or the consumer are widespread. This is because the stockist will not take back the cut strips from the retailer and this contributes to environmental poisoning, he noted.

Besides, some cut strips have sharp edges could cause cuts or lacerations in elderly and children with fragile skin. As a result most doctors do not approve cut strip retailing as it creates lack of confidence and encourage off- label use that may be harmful and over-the-counter abuse, said Chiplunkar.

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