Target to hit bull's-eye with ClearRx prescription bottle

May 15, 2005

What's red, flat, and comes with six different colored rubber band rings? It's a new prescription bottle that is part of ClearRx, a packaging system created by graphic designer Deborah Adler that will debut exclusively at Target pharmacies.

What's red, flat, and comes with six different colored rubber band rings? It's a new prescription bottle that is part of ClearRx, a packaging system created by graphic designer Deborah Adler that will debut exclusively at Target pharmacies.

Adler, who works for Milton Glaser Inc. in New York City, has a master's degree from the School of Visual Arts in the Big Apple. She began work on the new bottle design for the school's "Designer as Author" program. "In the second year of the program, you have to come up with an idea and try to bring it to market," she said.

Adler's idea to make information on prescription bottles easier to read and understand was prompted by an incident in which her grandmother accidentally took her grandfather's medicine. The two were prescribed different dosages of the same medication. "That incident brought the problem to my attention. It was part of my inspiration to come up with a new system," she said.

Adler expects that the first thing consumers will notice are the six colored rubber band rings at the bottom of the red bottle. "The colors represent each member of your family, so that you don't accidentally take another family member's medicine. When you go into the pharmacy, you tell the pharmacist what color you'd like, and it goes on your record so that no one else in your family will choose that color," she explained.

Consumers will also be attracted to the bottle's flat shape, noted Adler. "The bottle sits on its cap. It has a flat surface, which presents a clearer and more organized label. It's more intuitive in the sense that there is a front and a back. The front has information on how to take the drug. The back has warning icons, which are also newly designed to make it easier to understand the warning that's written next to the icon."

About 25 icons have been redesigned. For example, the "Do not take when pregnant" icon features a pregnant woman with a slash through it. "Make sure you finish all of this medication" is represented by an exclamation point.

Adler is enthusiastic about the bottle's patient information card, which is tucked securely in the back of the bottle. "We had to redesign the sheet of paper pharmacists put through the printers," she explained. "We worked with a label technology team. We have a little backing that's not sticky that goes over the bottle. That would leave a nonadhesive area to tuck the warning information card behind. If you pull that out, you'll see that we've extracted the most important information from the patient education sheet, such as side effects, common uses, and what to do if you miss a dose of the medicine."

Adler mentioned that the ClearRx system also includes a liquid dispensing system. "There's a cap inside of the liquid bottle that you can insert a syringe into so the liquid doesn't spill. It's useful to moms who give medicine to their children," she said.

The new bottle will get a lot of attention in the coming months. A TV campaign is introducing the bottle to patients, and it will also be displayed in an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in October. The exhibit is called Safe Design Takes on Risk.

When asked how she would react if other stores copied her bottle design, Adler said, "I'd love it, because that would be helping people. I'm hoping this will create awareness, and other stores will start to pay attention to their label and make it clearer."