Managing Medications: How to Get Organized | Finding a Good Pill Organizer

Managing Medications Part III: Get Organized

pill organizer
This installment in our medication management series is all about one thing, the pill organizer. It’s the most important tool I use to coordinate my medications. It’s an indispensable dispenser. One of my most notable laments, however, is that all of the pill organizers on the market are apparently made with the same first-priority criterion—that it cost less than a dollar. While that may be fine for a temporary solution, it means the market seems to consist exclusively of disappointing options. There are many of us with much greater need for a GOOD solution rather than a cheap one. I would gladly pay good money for a well-designed, durable model, but those don’t seem to exist.

My local pharmacy (and pretty much everyplace else that sells such items) has two sizes of the classic 7-day strip with the pop-open tabs that fatigue and break off after a few uses. You probably know the ones I’m talking about. I could be nice and call them ‘inadequate,’ but frankly, they’re crap. The main problem is that the tabs snag and come open easily in a purse or brief case, or worse, in the hands of a curious child. And that long skinny shape isn’t necessarily easy to carry around. Does anybody actually try to use these things before they’re sent to market?

I am constantly on the lookout for a nicer model, and occasionally see a similar one with a spring-loaded locking mechanism. But that still makes for seriously slim pickings. When I go to the big box store it seems they have a different one (yes, really, just one) in stock every time I go there, and each time it’s some pretty new shape or color, but still no improvement over the crippled functionality that plagues the others. And for crying out loud, what will it take to find one with an extra compartment for miscellaneous occasional pills like headache or allergy meds?

After much searching I did manage to find a fairly adequate pill dispenser a couple years ago and I’ve used it faithfully—or more accurately, used it up. It has eight compartments in two rows (7 days + 1) and a cover that slides over the top for extra security. But it’s now starting to fall apart. Of course when I went back to Big Box to get another one, it wasn’t there—there was something new and useless instead.

There seems to be no clever design going into any of the other models I’ve seen. The designers treat them like a sandwich bag—as something that gets used once and thrown away, and is therefore not worth any effort. I guess that’s what I’d expect for a dollar, but who says it has to be dirt cheap? There’s apparently no acknowledgement that a lot of people need a long term solution to this problem, and a good one. There is definitely demand, but the market provides remarkably limited variety… nothing but the same junky solution everywhere I look. I’m sure our free-market ingenuity can do better than that.

So, where are the good ones? I’m all ears. I would love to put together a list of better models and where to get them. Maybe we can help each other find a better tool. And if it so happens that you work for a company that makes pill organizers… first, drop an anvil on your head for wasting such a great opportunity to this point, then bring me in for a consultation with your design team. I’ll do it for free.

Email me at

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Tags: Supplies/Accessories/Equipment , Treatments

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About the Author

Andrew Tubesing is an acclaimed advocate and humorist on the subject of inflammatory bowel disease.