Compliance Requires a Better System

The designers behind Cimzia’s new packaging took on one of today’s biggest healthcare challenges: noncompliance. The result of their efforts is a packaging system that has eased the end-user experience and has succeeded in winning a Gold award in the 2010 Medical Design Excellence Award’s Finished Packaging category.

To understand the reasons for noncompliance, Paulette Bluhm-Sauriol and her team at Smart Design (New York, NY) “immersed ourselves in the lives of patients—we prefer to call them people” she explains. People who are prescribed Cimzia, which is made by UCB Celltech, suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, a disease that leaves many with mild to severe dexterity limitations. “Despite it all, people don’t want to be reminded they are sick. Instead, a common theme among the people we spent time with was that they all wanted to know whether today would be a good day or a bad day,” she says. “And they all wanted to deliver their doses quickly so they could get on with life.”

Part of their design research entailed having people interact with packaging of competing drugs or analogous examples to see how they opened, understood, used, and stored drugs. “Our goal was to observe and learn about the current systems and pain points and to understand what people really need,” says Bluhm-Sauriol.

Smart Design had previously developed the medication delivery device for Cimzia with UCB and OXO International (New York, NY), a company that espouses universal design principles. Smart Design then worked to extend that approach to the secondary packaging. But the package had to be more than just a box. “To ensure compliance, it needed to be a system that fit into people’s lives,” says Bluhm-Sauriol. “Pharmaceutical cartons are typically tossed aside or discarded after the products are removed. We saw the packaging as an opportunity to help people through the process, reassure them along the way, and get it all over with quickly, so they could get on with their good days.”

Smart designed a packaging system that included a curved opening panel so that hands with limited dexterity can easily slide under it to open; a clear communication hierarchy with font sizes on color choices that people can actually read; a package that opens as a helpful three-step kit with limited-dexterity-friendly access to medication guide, syringes, and swabs; safe syringe disposal information; and a package that seals with Velcro and is discretely able to be tucked away in refrigerators.

Developing the packaging system and accompanying product labeling took considerable time, especially with iterative and strict FDA approval. But “UCB was committed to reengineering the brand and the medication experience to encourage compliance,” says Bluhm-Sauriol. Perhaps the most important conclusion throughout the design process to UCB and Smart Design was that they were developing more than a package. “It had to be a system,” says Bluhm-Sauriol. “An experience that fit into their lives.” The Cimzia package does just that.

Daphne Allen, Editor

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