Dose administration aids: help or hindrance when it comes to taking medicines?

1 April 2014

Dose administration aids help organise doses of tablets and capsules and can help some people manage their medicines better. However they might not be suitable for all people according to Rohan Elliott, a senior pharmacist at Austin Health in Melbourne.

Writing in the latest edition of Australian Prescriber, Rohan Elliott says that not all medicines — and not all patients — match well with dose administration aids.

Commonly used dose administration aids include compartmentalised plastic boxes (like Dosette boxes), blister or bubble packs (like Webster-Pak), sachet systems, and automated medication dispensing devices.

“There are certainly potential benefits for some people in having their medicine doses packed by a pharmacist. These include fewer medicines needing to be stored at home, fewer missed doses or doses taken incorrectly, and less stress for the individual or their carer to remember which medicine to take when,” says Mr Elliott.

“However, the aids are not without their limitations — for example, some medicines might not be suitable to be packed in a dosing aid or might have a reduced shelf life when they’re repacked.

“Dosing aids are also sometimes used by patients who could potentially manage their medicines from the original packs on their own with appropriate education and simple adherence strategies. In these cases the use of a dose administration aid might lead to patient disempowerment or deskilling.

“And of course, a dosing aid isn’t a magic solution for people who intentionally don’t take their medicines, or who are just plain forgetful.”

The article explains that a dose administration aid might be useful for people who:

  • Are struggling to manage complex medicine regimen that can’t be simplified
  • Take regular medicines that are suitable for repacking
  • Sometimes forget what they’ve taken and when

Are having their medicine-taking monitored by a carer.

“Dose administration aids aren’t a panacea for all medicines management problems, but certainly might benefit some people who have a specific problem when it comes to taking their medicines as prescribed,” says Mr Elliott.

To read the full article and others visit

Individuals with questions about their medicine can call the NPS Medicines Line (1300 MEDICINE or 1300 633 424) Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm AEST.


Australian Prescriber is an independent peer-reviewed journal providing critical commentary on therapeutic topics for health professionals, particularly doctors in general practice. It is published every two months and distributed to health professionals free of charge, and is also available online at 

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