The perfect prescription bottle Matt 20 May 2005

22 comments Latest by ERE

The standard issue brown prescription pill bottle recently received an overhaul from Deborah Adler, a 29-year-old graphic designer (it was her grad school thesis project). The new design, dubbed Safe Rx, is now the standard at all Target pharmacies and will be exhibited at the MoMA in October. Not too shabby. The Perfect Prescription describes Adler’s design process.

She started out by looking at the limitations of the current design. For example, she noted the downside of the “make the logo bigger” mentality: “The first and largest piece of type on a label is often the drugstore’s logo and address — not the name of the drug and instructions on how to take it, which should be given priority.”

Then she moved on to creating a better pill bottle. There are a few cool things about the new design but I especially dig the system of six colored rubber rings that attach to the neck of the bottle (like the color coded rings you slip around your keys). Family members can each get a shade so medications in a shared bathroom will never get mixed up.

So why did Adler decide to tackle the project? She realized the standard bottle was not only ugly but dangerous too after her grandmother accidentally swallowed pills meant for her grandfather.

22 comments (comments are closed)

Morten 20 May 05

The “mixing up medicine bottles” reminds me of (true) story a friend told about his grandmother. My friends father visited her at the nursing home, she’s 85 or so at the time. She tells him how her arthritis pains have ceased completely after she got these new pills from the doctor. So he decides to check out the pill-box, which turns out to be the quicksilver batteries for her hearing aid.. Nothing beats old people :-)

Todd 20 May 05

I am glad that these bottles are getting alot of press, as it brings attention to the outstanding problems associated with prescription medicine…BUT, the one issue I still have with these new designs, that I have yet to hear anyone mention, is that the current cap mechanism and size were kept along with the bottle standing on it’s cap.

Standing the bottle like this creates and unstable platform, while it is visually appealing to have the bottles designed this way (and also the economic feasibility of keeping the current caps) would it not be better served to simply flip the bottle?

Merrick 20 May 05

A simple and functional design like this for a medium that has been so confusing is like a breath of fresh air. However the fact that target seized this and made it there own is disheatening. As it points out in the article, one of the major problems with the bottles is that they all present the information differently. It would be much more useful if all pharmacies started using bottles like this. Maybe this will encourage competition and other pharmacies will come on board. You would imagine her new set of icons would be only useful if they were an industry standard.

Not a Steve 20 May 05

´┐ŻAnd the co-pay on the batteries was probably less, too.

Bruno Figueiredo 20 May 05

Donald Norman already talked about this bottlle. Yes, it looks like a great design… in theory! But is this designed backed up by good results on user tests?

It’s one thing to say it’s better, but it should be tested.

Adam Codega 20 May 05

I was surprised to hear of problems with the bottle. It might happen with certain pill shapes. Sounds like it could use some more tweaking. I thought of “designing for the greater good” awhile back when the bottle redesign was first announced, although SVN doesn’t have a link tip form. I believe they did some tests during the design process before making it final.

pb 20 May 05

Standing the bottle like this creates and unstable platform

They look pretty stable to me. The base is large and the bottle is pyramid shape which concentrates the mass in the center and lower.

DaleV 20 May 05

We have used these a number of times already and they work fine and look good. For our son’s penicillin, they have an attachment to the mouth of the bottle that the plastic syringe slips into so you can draw the dosage upside-down like a doctor to eliminate air bubbles.

sloan 20 May 05

unfortunately, it does not help people remember if they have taken their dosage for the day already… i would have liked them to build in something to deal with that as well as helping indicate how close to needing a refill they are….

Darrel 20 May 05

Seems a tad impractical for liquid medicine.

Fin 20 May 05

Dispite it’s flaws, it’s an inspiring design.

Adam Codega 21 May 05

Dale brings up a very good point. Darrel where you refering to the liquid bottles? The liquid bottles I think are an even better design. The bottle has a built in plastic syringe to measure out the dosage.

Bruno Figueiredo 22 May 05

Well, I live in Portugal, so I’m not likely to see this bottle here. We don’t even have this kind of container for pills here. Pills always come in boxes inside individually sealed slabs. Some of these have markings and you can see if you have already taken the pill intended for that day.

I understand that the designer tried to overcome some problems with the previous bottle, but, as Donald Norman already said, I believe it wasn’t properly tested.

These are the flaws I already noticed:

- They can’t be stacked. Medicine cabinets are often very narrow and small. I don’t know why but the designer optimised the bottle for drawers. I don’t know many people that keep their medicine in drawers.

- The coloured ring can’t be seen from the top when in a drawer.

- Some pills have strange shapes and the inside corners of the bottle may prove to be hard to reach.

- As someone noticed in the core77 forum, if you attach the cap wrong, pills are scattered everywhere.

- The bright red colour may prove enticing to children. In europe, medicine boxes are always very dull and ugly. This is by design: so that children don’t find them interesting to play with.

Just my 2c.

Huvet 23 May 05

Something people frequently miss to take into consideration is color-blindness. How is the old gransmother going to tell a green and red rubber ring apart? Don’t forget about accessibility when designing.

Julia 23 May 05

Very nice site

kory 23 May 05

Poor design - the shoulder formed by the bottle neck prevents easy dispensing of the pills. Form is great, function - not so much…

Barbara 03 Aug 05

Does anyone know where to buy the color-coded rubber rings that Target uses on their medicine bottles? They work perfectly on glue bottles and would help organize my art room.

Thanks,
Barbara, Art Teacher

Art Teacher 03 Aug 05

Does anyone know where to buy the color-coded rubber rings that Target uses on their medicine bottles? They fit perfectly on glue bottles and would help organize art supplies.

Thanks,
Art Teacher

Sam 15 Aug 05

I think everyone is looking at these new bottle with a extremely critical eye. Not saying that criticism is bad. But if you compare the bottle to the current “industry standard” bottle, I believe the improvement is significant.

Further, I think the major US pharmacies (Walgreens, CVS) may be slow to adopt since they will likely have a “not invented here” mentality.