Benefits of Unit-Dose Medication

Maher Ishak, owner and manager of Woodbury Pharmacy in Highland Mills, New York, has worked extensively with hospital practitioners over the course of his career. Maher Ishak has also spent several years as a hospital pharmacist, where he developed an in-depth familiarity with unit dosing.

Common in hospital pharmacies, the unit-dose system divides medication into containers that each contain a single patient dose. This type of dosing is particularly important for those medications that present particularly serious problems if a patient receives even slightly too much or too little. Instead of placing this responsibility in the hands of individual medical personnel, the pharmacist precisely measures, contains, and labels the dose.

This system has found the most success in the hospital setting, where a drug tends to pass through more hands before reaching the patient. Since stricter labeling requirements were instituted by the Food and Drug Administration in 2004, however, the overall use of unit-dose packaging in pharmaceutical environments has increased, and studies have shown pharmacists prepare these orders more efficiently. That said, unit-dose packaging does tend to lead to a higher cost for patients, due to the increased demand on manufacturers, so its adoption by the industry has been gradual.

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