By Eric L. Foxman, R.Ph.
Consumers make purchase decisions based on several factors such as packaging and perceived effectiveness. Research shows dosage forms also factor into consumers’ decision to buy your product! AAHP is providing this brief summary of significant research to help you in developing products as well as promoting existing products. In addition to product packaging and perceived effectiveness, consumers make purchase decisions based upon dosage forms. There has been significant research done over the past decade concerning consumer attitudes regarding dosage forms; this research can inform and enlighten both your new product development and your promotion of existing products.
One review article  highlights the similarities and differences in both adult and pediatric age groups in relation to factors affecting acceptability of medicines. The review covers new and conventional formulations of medicines and considers their appropriateness for use in children and older consumers. If your product line includes homeopathic medicines for children, this is definitely an article worth reading.
Most research has focused on the “swallow-ability” as well as patient preferences of tablets and capsules with different sizes, shapes, surfaces and colors. According to one  of many studies, the ideal tablet is small and white, strongly arched, circular and coated. If a bigger tablet is required, oblong or oval shapes, along with a coating, are preferred. However, capsules are generally favored over tablets.
Another study  reiterates the impact of appearance, but adds additional points to consider:
- The general appearance of oral solid dosage forms plays a signiﬁcant role in response to the prescribed treatment.
- The difﬁculty to swallow solid medication sometimes results in discontinuation of the treatment.
- Previous experience with solid medication may affect the creditability of the medicine.
- Pharmaceutical companies should consider consumers’ preferences and expectations when manufacturing medicines to achieve the full effect of the treatment.
A more recent study  looked at consumers’ perceptions and came to the following conclusions: “…. consumers respond more positively to easy-to-swallow dosage forms they perceive to work quicker and have an appearance of strength preservation. Dosage forms such as capsules, liquid-filled and gel-coats (including products considered rapid-release forms) are more likely to deliver those perceptions. At the same time, usage and preference for both tablets and chewables have declined significantly—a major change for the dosage-form community….”
While few homeopathic products are available as orally disintegrating tablets or films, qualities associated with this more recently developed dosage form are certainly applicable to classic homeopathic pellets: aimed to disintegrate rapidly on the tongue, and can be taken anywhere and anytime without the need to drink water. (For more information regarding orally disintegrating dosage forms, see below for a very good overview article .)
These are characteristics that can be promoted to your advantage and can complement the therapeutic claims made for your homeopathic drug products. In this context, it is well worth reading a short interview  with a Big Pharma executive regarding well conceived and deftly promoted dosage forms: “…Advantages include ease-of-use and convenience for all patients, boosting compliance. User-friendly dosage forms can be taken with or without water to suit individual preferences and can be conveniently taken along to work, school, sports, or elsewhere. This makes it easier for patients to integrate medication into their daily lives, and reliably take medicines according to the intended and prescribed schedule….”
These are all points that can be incorporated in the promotion of your existing products for marketing advantages. And when contemplating the addition of new products, dosage form considerations could be just as important as the ingredient formulation in the success of your product.
 Patient-Centred Pharmaceutical Design to Improve Acceptability of Medicines: Similarities and Differences in Paediatric and Geriatric Populations Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4210646/ Accessed May 19, 2016.
 Patients’ Evaluation of Shape, Size and Colour of Solid Dosage Forms. Available at: http://capsugel.com/media/library/patients-evaluation-of-shape-size-and-color-of-solid-dosage-forms.pdf. Accessed May 19, 2016.
 The Inﬂuence of Consumers’ Preferences and Perceptions of Oral Solid Dosage Forms on Their Treatment. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228088713_The_influence_of_consumers’_preferences_and_perceptions_of_oral_solid_dosage_forms_on_their_treatment. Accessed May 19, 2016.
 Consumer Dosage-Form Preferences Show Significant Changes. Avaialble at: http://www.naturalproductsinsider.com/articles/2010/06/consumer-dosage-form-preferences-show-significant-changes.aspx. Accessed May 19, 2016.
 Executive Interview – Hermes Pharma: User-Friendly Dosage Forms, a Win-Win Situation for Patients & Pharma. Available at: http://www.drug-dev.com/Main/Back-Issues/EXECUTIVE-INTERVIEW-Hermes-Pharma-UserFriendly-Dos-666.aspx. Accessed May 19, 2016.