Exploring women’s arthritis issues and needs

AS it Goes – Bottle Cap Madness

Bottle of spilled pills

Image courtesy of Naypong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I can hear the sound of the spill even before it happens. Why? Because it’s a predictable outcome and it's an oft-repeated event in our household. The noise I am referring to is the sound of a plastic pill bottle with 250 capsules hitting a tile floor and bouncing.... everywhere. The scattershot is usually followed by a few select curses and my name.

The issue is that I don't put the childproof caps back on bottles (or any other hard-to-open bottle top, for that matter). The osteoarthritis in my thumbs and other finger joints make it a struggle-and-a-half to twist and line-up the arrows and then press down sufficiently hard while turning in the slim hope that I will actually succeed in freeing a childproof cap. Once I manage to get those dang tops off, I simply leave them off. Sometimes I rest the cover on top of the bottle, which is a deceptive practice because it appears that the top is securely closed (my bad), which leads to unfortunate incidents, such as the spill situ described above.

I have long complained to pharmacies about those impossibly secure caps on my medication bottles. I understand that these caps may be necessary from a safety standpoint, but there are no youngsters in my household and the med bottles are safely stored in upper cupboards (just in case....) Most of the time when the pharmacy fills my meds it sees the standing request on my file for plastic flip-off caps, which are very manageable.

But, sometimes, the pharmacy tech ignores the request and I am left to my own devices. The Internet is filled with different kinds of gadgets to assist in prying off the childproof caps, and you can learn tricks to turn the impossible-to-remove caps into painless twist-offs.

It mystifies me why over-the-counter medications (OTC) used in great numbers by arthritis patients or seniors - people who may have less manual dexterity - are not equipped with easy-to-remove caps. From a safety viewpoint, manufacturers certainly already have packaging (boxes, plastic shrink wrap, cardboard seals, etc.) designed to prevent tampering with the contents.

I know that manufacturers received the memo about the evil caps because I recently noticed that a popular OTC anti-inflammatory now offers soft-grip caps designed for people with arthritis and a contoured bottle, which means you can get more traction in your grip.

Fran HalterMy dog also takes anti-inflammatory pills for her arthritis and I was shocked to find that her pill bottle also has a childproof top. How on earth is a dog going to pull off that cap (never mind the dog’s owner)? If a dog gets hold of the bottle, he or she will simply crush the bottle and eat the contents – probably bottle cap and all! Grrrr....