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The Commonality Differentiation Index Using Prominence of Visual Information for Medication Package Family Planning

[+] Author Affiliations
Steven B. Shooter, Shane W. Cohen

Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA

Paper No. DETC2010-28808, pp. 231-237; 7 pages
  • ASME 2010 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 5: 22nd International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology; Special Conference on Mechanical Vibration and Noise
  • Montreal, Quebec, Canada, August 15–18, 2010
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4413-7 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3881-5
  • Copyright © 2010 by ASME


Consumable products such as medications rely on the package or label to represent the contents. Package confusion has been widely recognized as a major problem for both over-the-counter and pharmacy-dispensed medications with potentially lethal consequences. It is critical to identify a medication as a member of a product family and differentiate its contributing elements based on visual features on the package or label. Indices that indicate degrees of commonality and differentiation of features for platforms have been shown to benefit development of engineered product families. It is possible to take a similar approach for visual features in packaging such as typography, shape/form, imagery and color. This paper establishes a commonality/differentiation index for prominence of visual features on over-the-counter and pharmacy-dispensed medications based on size and location of features. It provides a quantitative measure to assist package designers in evaluating alternatives to satisfy strategic goals and improve safety. The index is demonstrated with several medications that have been identified by the Institute for Safe Medication Practice as commonly confused.

Copyright © 2010 by ASME
Topics: Drugs



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