Effective malaria treatment is critical both to ensure the well-being of the patient, and to avoid the development of drug resistance. Correct prescribing, dispensing and adherence to treatment remains a serious challenge to successful malaria case management. Patients often do not receive or take the correct therapeutic dose, or do not fully complete the course of treatment.
MMV’s is working, with its Pharmaceutical partners, to overcome this challenge by developing appropriate, patient-friendly packaging for the new products emerging from its pipeline.
Since malaria is often managed at home with limited contact with a health care worker, appropriate packaging of antimalarials, with clear and user-friendly instructions, is one way of ensuring their correct dispensing and use. Low levels of literacy in malaria-endemic countries also make it difficult for patients to follow written instructions for the correct dose of treatment.
As new medicines from MMV’s pipeline are submitted to the stringent regulatory authorities for registration, the Access team is already at work pre-testing designs for its packaging and information to evaluate the acceptability, appropriateness and comprehension by health care workers, medicine dispensers, caregivers and patients. This is done in close cooperation with the Ministry of Health in malaria endemic countries.
Participants in this process are shown the pictorial packaging designs and asked what they understand from the dosage instructions and what they like and dislike about the illustrations. An on-site visual designer then adapts the illustrations in line with the feedback, and the revised materials are tested the following week. This iterative process ensures that the final packaging best communicates:
- the drug is a treatment for malaria
- the number of tablets to be taken, depending on the patient’s age or weight
- the dosing schedule - to be taken all at once or at different times through the day
- the duration of treatment - number of consecutive days that that the drug should be taken.