ATAP (Ask the Angry Pharmacist): Imitrex packaging

Here is my question, though it’s unrelated to today’s post, and it’s not my
pharmacist’s fault in the slightest. Why does Imitrex come in those big,
folding card packages?

Because God and GSK hate you. :)
Actually it’s like that for your enjoyment :) I love the Imitrex packaging, because it gives me a damn good excuse to just overrule whatever the doctor writes for in the quantity (#30? gimme a break) and just slap the label on the thing and give it out. Saves me the cost for a bottle, labor for a tech to count, and I can prepare and send it on its way while the techs are busy counting vicodin. Plus I think the pills are really brittle or sensitive to ambient air moisture, so it makes sense to individuality blister pack them.

I can’t easily carry those packages in my purse.
They are also a pain in the ass to open. I use a tweezers to get the first
layer open (try doing that with a migraine). When I pop it through the
next layer, it often breaks and a piece ends up in my carpet.

Get a bigger purse.. :)
Or you can just cut out the foil bubbles and keep them in a plastic baggie. You can also rip off the top layer of the bi-fold packaging so you just have the cardboard part that houses the little foil blisters. As long as the tablets stay in the little foil blisters you can do whatever you want. Personally I’d want to keep a copy of the pharmacy label in the plastic baggy so paramedics or other medical personnel can tell what they are if you are found in a ditch somewhere.
For your opening question, its like that to make them ‘childproof’ since they are not in a childproof pharmacy vial. Personally I think childproof caps are bullshit since a kid can get them off anyways, and if you keep your medication where a toddler can get it you shouldn’t be having/taking care of children.
You can also carefully cut the blisters open, but make sure you feel where the pill is first before you go hacking like Conan.

Anyway, I enjoy your blog, and now I understand why it takes time to fill a
prescription.

Thanks! :) I enjoy it when people send me legit questions that I can answer on here.

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18 Comments

  1. deb says:

    your site is great. And I have newer, greater respect for pharmacists (always did anyhow)—-reading of your struggles and dealing with idiots in public. I know how it is. I am an RN and see a whole lot of fertile numbskulls out there that steal just a bit of my life when they come to my OB unit. I feel sadder still, sending those babies home with them….alas. We have to do our jobs.
    Good luck and happy blogging. I love reading your words here. Your sense of humor is something I relate to, a LOT.
    deb

  2. rph3664 says:

    Do you remember the original Imitrex packaging – that Rube Goldberg apparatus for self-injection?
    I’m sure glad my migraines aren’t disabling and are controlled by aspirin.

  3. Anita says:

    I use Amerge/naratriptan, and they have the same set up. What makes me crazy is they clearly have the spaces for 10 pills, and only put in 9. Since I’m allowed to take 2/migraine, that gives me 4.5 headaches to the box, which is pretty inconvenient. If it was 3/headache, or 1, it wouldn’t be so irritating. (I almost always have to use 2.)

  4. Jim Howard says:

    This is an honest question.
    Every month I call the computer at Walgreens to have my monthly prescription refilled.
    I always give the computer a pickup time that is hopelessly optimistic. I usually don’t really pick it up until 12 to 36 hours after the time I entered.
    Am I a bad person?

  5. tech x says:

    The only bad things about those stupid Imitrex packs is they come in a package of #9 and I don’t know about you, but it seems that every single persons insurance will only cover #6/30 days w/o a PA … (kinda like Viagra). Totally stupid and hard to explain to a patient who has no knowledge of pharmacy and/or insurance companies. “Well, it comes in #9, why can’t I get #9?”

  6. tech x says:

    The only bad things about those stupid Imitrex packs is they come in a package of #9 and I don’t know about you, but it seems that every single persons insurance will only cover #6/30 days w/o a PA … (kinda like Viagra). Totally stupid and hard to explain to a patient who has no knowledge of pharmacy and/or insurance companies. “Well, it comes in #9, why can’t I get #9?”

  7. Gurl says:

    I’ve always wanted you to do question/answer blog stuff!
    Me next! Me next! Am I the only person on the planet who runs out of ambien early, or is it everyone? Or is it just me?
    One pill always turns into two with those little bitches.
    Such a worthless med. I think it was created just to get people hooked and piss off pharmacists when people run out early. Now I can’t sleep without the litte f*ckers.
    PU—lllleeaasssee tell me I’m not the only one.

  8. Jonathan says:

    Except the fact I hate the packaging. Okay, I use Axert, but it is the same damn packaging. I have used every triptan on the market and they too are all the same. I tend to open all the pills at once and place them in a pill caddy. Then I can leave it my pocket so if I were to need one, I unscrew the cap and pop the pill.
    I find this to be less frustrating to do as when I really need one I don’t want to fumble with the packaging.

  9. canoehead says:

    Question;
    I have prn meds (lorazepam)ordered that I need about once a year. If I knew the expiry date on the bottle it was dispensed from I could save a boatload of money- only refill every few years instead of once a year. My pharmacist totally refuses to tell me when the meds expire. They just say a year from the dispensing date. It seems like the expiry date of my meds would be something I’d have a right to know. As it stands I just keep taking them after the expiry date and know that they might not be as strong- whatever- they still work. My doc writes for a small amount when ever I ask her, but paying the dispensing fee once a year when I don’t need to is annoying.

  10. Jen says:

    I’m Canadian, my husband is American, and it never ceases to amaze me just how damned hard it is to get his Prilosec out of the package. The blisters are apparently made of concrete, and the little dashes where theoretically you can fold the package back to easily access the meds are apparently randomly placed, as they don’t seem to have any logical purpose. A kitchen knife works, but it’s an interesting way to access meds.
    The absolute best thing about being married to an American who takes meds with lots of packaging is the advertising that we get INSIDE the boxes though…we actually got a “Best of NASCAR 2003” DVD in a 2007 package of Prilosec. If either of us watched Nascar or had any interest in it I guess that it might have been an incentive, but it’s actually on display in our home right now as no one up here can believe it.
    I think that you do some things differently down there.

  11. debbie says:

    Worst Packaging Ever????
    CHANTIX!

  12. debpo says:

    To those having problems with the bubble packs when you have a migraine: I suffer them too. So break out the meds and place them in a pill bottle in your purse FIRST before you anticipate the need, that way no delay in getting the med on board. I use Relpax, same problem. I have them ready BEFORE I need them. THAT is the key. Good luck.

  13. DrRx says:

    To Canoehead…
    Blame the United States Pharmacopea for your pharmacist’s answer…. The FDA is very serious about the quality of drugs in those bottles…. That’s why it’s so damn scary that we keep letting that unregulated ‘herbal viagra’ shit run around this country….but I digress. To put it as directly as I can… The manufacturer of the drug gets to say that their drug is good for X # of days/weeks/years in a certain tightly controlled conditions (temp, humidity, light, etc) only after submitting…very literally…reams and reams of data to the FDA. So, when the company says that our lorazepam in this particular lot (yep, each lot could vary) is good for two years, it ONLY applies when ALL of the conditions are met. The pharmacist is supposed to ‘match’ those conditions as much as possible. But we know in reality, A/C’s break down, pipes break, heating breaks…yada yada…. And that drug is only good for those two years if it STAYS in that ORIGINAL bottle… Once you take it out, all bets are off, degradation can accelerate (especially if you’re like a lot of people and store you drugs in a med cabinet in a steamy bathroom)… So all of those things make the stability of the drug AFTER you remove it from the ORIGINAL container a big question mark….so that’s why you get the ‘one year from when it’s dispensed’…and ONLY if the ACTUAL expiration date is AT Least a year…. Most drugs lose potency…but hell, in an apocalypse, you better believe that stuff could still be used…but some other drugs become toxic (tetracylcine – Fanconi syndrome)…. In our ‘sue-happy’ society, it could be folly for a pharmacist to willy-nilly hand out exp. info that goes against USP regs….

  14. indietech says:

    i used to not be bothered by imitrex packaging. until one fateful day in august.
    we have a patient who faithfully fills her imitrex #9 and she needs those little suckers to function. however, when running through a refill for her, the insurance screen came back with this crap message of “only 4 pills allowed in a 30 day period.” WHAT?! i spent a good half hour arguing with the insurance rep about how retarded that rule was and did they not know that it came in packages of 9? (luckily we weren’t busy at this time and this patient is very loyal, so i could justify my arguing for so long.)
    they assured me that, yes, they knew they came in packages of 9. so what? suck it up and cut it up. except we’re an independent pharmacy and can’t really afford having 1 pill of what used to be a package of 9 sitting around for a while. and SHE can’t afford to pay for the other 5 she needs every month.
    completely and absolutely retarded. i bet those stupid corporate puppets are just so pleased with themsleves.

  15. guardian the overseer says:

    will explain who i am first
    i live in the great state of mississippi ,and am employed to go to Dr.s clinics and pharmacys to try to get as many drugs as I can , (on what ever card they give me that week )
    sometimes I dress bad smell bad and reek of wine and urine, some Dr,s never look me in the face they write the script and send me out one Dr, loaded me down with samples of Viagra and Cialis
    when my complaint was back pain , He kinda smiled and said these are selling like hotcakes ,so out I go 2 scripts in hand and a big brown grocery bag full of HAPPY pills,, my reports get filed and keep growing daly and he sees me often , I even have his cell number just incase I need a refill

  16. Jonathan says:

    I just got my Axert renewed, Disp #12 1 po prn for migraine HA… Had the nurse at the doctors office call it in. Of course it was refused since I am only allowed 6 per month. He used to prescribe me 6 and I asked him to give me 12 since the box I get is for 12 and they always cross of 12 and write 6 on it with a pen.
    Anyways, the nurse at the doctors office spoke to the insurance company for over an hour and eventually allowed me to get 12 per month now.
    I’m happy but my only problem with triptans are if I am wrong and my symptoms are not migraine, and I take it, the side effects are almost unbearable. Anyone else with these problems?

  17. Steven says:

    Yeah they are a real bitch to those of us behind closed doors in the hospital. They are the only way to get Imitrex, but the UD packaging doesn’t have an EXP. or Lot on each tablet (or the damn product name for that matter), so we have to punch out the the tablets and repackage them to comply with state and federal regulations. Can you fix this? Just kidding, thanks for letting me vent.

  18. Research Pharm says:

    I believe the reason they are package this way is to prevent the patient from taking more that what is necessary. Aspirin, for example, comes in a bottle and when a patient has a “really bad headache” they automatically take more than the recommended dose. What people fail to understand is that taking more medication doesn’t always increase the efficacy of the drug.

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