HEALTH

Study suggests electronic pillboxes increase compliance among elderly

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON Electronic pillboxes that signal when to take medicine and how much medicine to take significantly increase compliance among seniors, according to a study recently presented to the American Geriatrics Society’s 2008 Annual Scientific Meeting.

Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy monitored the medication compliance of older adults who were on regimens of at least four prescription drugs for three weeks.

The researchers then gave each of the seniors a MedSignals interactive, electronic, multi-drug, multi-dose pillbox. The programmable, “talking” pillbox includes a separate compartment for each drug, and holds a month’s supply of medications. The pillbox beeps when it’s time to take a medication, indicates which compartment the appropriate pill is in, and displays, on a screen, the number to take. When the compartment is opened, the pillbox repeats the number of pills to take, and specifies other important information regarding how the drug should be taken.

In the study, the pillboxes were programmed to send electronic reports on which drugs were taken, how often, and when, via phone line, to the researchers. The commercially available boxes can be programmed to send patients, their healthcare providers and caregivers this information.

When the older adults used the pillbox, they were significantly more likely to take their drugs as prescribed than when they didn’t use the pillbox, the researchers found. Moreover, the difference in compliance rates increased with the number of doses prescribed daily. When they didn’t use the pillbox, for example, adults who were prescribed multiple doses took an average of one pill fewer each day than when using the boxes. When using the boxes, older adults were also less likely to miss all doses on a given day—6 percent of the seniors did this when using the box compared with 12 percent when not using it.

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GSK applauds updated PHS guidlines for quitting smoking

BY Michael Johnsen

PARSIPPANY, N.J. GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare on Wednesday released a statement commending the updated 2008 U.S. Public Health Service Guideline on Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence.

“Too many smokers lower their chances of quitting by relying on cold turkey approaches to become tobacco-free,” GSK stated. “The Guideline is an important validation of the need for clinicians to recommend the use of effective tobacco dependence counseling and medication [and] reflects considerable progress in tobacco cessation research over the past decade to help identify the most effective strategies at reducing tobacco dependence.”

The updated guideline reflects the distillation of thousands of research articles, and continues to recommend nicotine replacement products as a first-line therapy for quitting, as they “increase significantly rates of long-term smoking abstinence.”

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Study suggests link between vitamin D deficiency and depression

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO According to a study published in the May edition of the Archives of General Psychiatry, depression has been linked to a vitamin D deficiency in older adults.

The Netherlands study examined 1,282 community residents between the ages of 65 years and 95 years.

Levels of vitamin D were 14 percent lower in 169 persons with minor depression, as well as in 26 persons with major depressive order.

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