Quality of medicines stored together in multi-compartment compliance aids

J Clin Pharm Ther. 2010 Oct;35(5):533-43. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2710.2009.01129.x.


Background and objective: Dispensing medicines into compliance aids is a common practice in pharmacy contrary to manufacturers' advice and studies have shown the appearance of light-sensitive tablets is compromised by such storage; we previously found evidence of reduced bioavailability at elevated temperature and humidity. Our objective was to examine the physicochemical stability of two generic atenolol tablets in different compliance aids and with aspirin co-storage at room temperature and at 40 °C/75% relative humidity.

Methods: The physicochemical stability of atenolol tablets was evaluated after 28 days of storage and compared with controls by examining visual appearance, weight, disintegration, dissolution, friability and hardness to accepted standards and using a previously validated HPLC method for chemical assay.

Results and discussion: The response to storage was brand-dependent and not straightforward. With one make of atenolol (Alpharma), storage in compliance aids even at room temperature impacted on physical stability, reducing tablet hardness, with storage in Dosett exerting a greater impact than storage in Medidos (t-test P<0·001). Co-storage at elevated temperature and humidity also impacted on the appearance of non-coated aspirin tablets (Angette). The chemical stability of atenolol was not affected and we did not find evidence of changes to bioavailability with either make. Certainly data for one atenolol make (CP Pharmaceuticals) co-stored with aspirin (Angette and Nu-Seals) in both compliance aids at room temperature provided evidence of short-term stability. But medicines are dispensed into compliance aids in multi-factorial ways so our study highlights not only the lack of evidence but also a realization that evidence to support real practice may not be accomplished through research.

Conclusion: Reassuring practitioners of the continued stability of medicines in compliance aids under the countless condition in which they are dispensed in practice may requires a different approach involving medical device regulators and more definitive professional guidance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / chemistry
  • Antihypertensive Agents / chemistry*
  • Aspirin
  • Atenolol / chemistry*
  • Biological Availability
  • Chemical Phenomena
  • Drug Packaging*
  • Drug Stability*
  • Drug Storage*
  • Excipients
  • Hardness
  • Humans
  • Humidity
  • Light
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Solubility
  • Tablets
  • Temperature


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Excipients
  • Tablets
  • Atenolol
  • Aspirin