The Effect of Quality Indicators on Beliefs about Medicines Reuse: An Experimental Study

Pharmacy (Basel). 2021 Jul 21;9(3):128. doi: 10.3390/pharmacy9030128.


Background: A number of studies have examined beliefs about medicines reuse. Although the practice is prohibited in UK community pharmacy, it does take place elsewhere in the world where it relies on visual checks of returned medicines as an indicator of their quality. One proposal is to integrate sensor technology onto medication packaging as a marker of their quality instead. Our aim was to gauge people's beliefs about medicines reuse, in an experiment, with or without sensor technology and with or without the promise of visual checks completed by a pharmacist, as experimental conditions, should the practice be sanctioned in the UK in the future.

Methods: A between participant study was designed with two independent factors testing the hypothesis that sensors and visual checks would increase pro-medicines-reuse beliefs. A questionnaire was used to measure medicines reuse beliefs and collect qualitative comments.

Results: Eighty-one participants took part. Attitudes toward medication offered for reuse, participants' perceived social pressure to accept the medication, and their intention to take part in medicines reuse all increased with the presence of sensors on packaging and with the promise of pharmacist visual checking, with the former causing a greater increase than the latter, and the combination of both making the greatest increase. People's qualitative comments explained their concerns about medicines reuse, validating the findings. The use of sensors on medication packaging warrants further investigation if regulators are to consider approving medicines reuse in the UK.

Keywords: attitudes; medicines; medicines reuse; pharmacist; sensors.