Monday, August 17, 2009

I Helped Redesign the Vytorin Bottles

Seems like a ludicrous statement does it not? That is a true statement yet I misplaced the actual proof I have from Merck stating I had a hand in it. I misplaced that proof until today when I stumbled upon it while moving.

I usually don't mention it because it sounds outlandish. The sort of thing someone would make up to make themselves sound more impressive and I did not want to give that impression.

Now I don't know if any of you remember specifically, but when Vytorin first came out it was in very similarly colored labels. They consisted of mainly red, white and silver accents with the type on the bottle being fairly hard to see. We especially were having numerous problems with Vytorin 10/40mg and 10/80mg being mixed up due to similarities in the bottle design.

Yes I know we should being paying more attention and blah blah blah, but this was becoming a serious problem to the tune of one error per day. There simply was not enough difference in the bottles or tablets to discern an error if, for whatever reason, there was a lapse in judgment.

So I hopped on the phone one day, after being frustrated, and got ahold of someone in the marketing department. I relayed my concerns, hung up the phone and thought nothing off it... until I received a call four days later from the VP of Marketing for Merck.

He explained that I had brought up a point that no one else had noticed and I was now in a conference call with another Merck exec, the head of the QA department and two other product designers. They asked me what I thought would be helpful to people 'in the field' to identify bottles properly.

I replied that first they needed to emphasize the milligram dosing as it was too small to eyeball quickly with all the other lettering on the bottle. I then suggested that since they had 4 differing bottles (for the 4 strengths) that they needed to move beyond their simple 3 color scheme and employ a fourth or fifth color. I suggested one of the colors be something that would stand out against the red/silver coloring of the current bottles and it should be used with the most common strength for ease of identification. I then suggested a blue would do just fine.

After another twenty minutes of discussion we were done. And I forgot about the incident for several months... until unpacking an order one day. I noticed a massive change in the packaging design... the Vytorin 10/40mg bottles were now blue with my design elements.

I was floored. I didn't say anything because, again, I thought it would sound completely improbable. About a week later I received this letter from Merck in the mail thanking me for my assistance in this matter.

Now I'm sure others hand an input into the design of the new bottles, but I always thought that I had some part in it.

The bigger question is, should I use this for my pharmacy school applications and/or interviews? I know have proof, to a certain extent, that I am not fabricating what I did, but I feel I would be walking a very thin line between what they could misconstrue as the fact and fiction.

So, any thoughts?


Pharmacist Erin said...

I would most definitely mention this! Hella yeah! That is awesome! You rock!

Pharmgirl said...

Since you have proof that you were actually involved, use it! That's such a great story!

DisasterCh1ck said...

Absolutely - you've got proof that you

1. identified a problem
2. had the initiative to do something about it
3. communicated the problem successfully to the manufacturer, who took your advice, all of which
4. made quality of care better, not just for YOUR patients, but for ours as well.

you bet you should use that in your application, because people like you are who I want as my colleagues!

Pharmacy student said...

That's really neat! Ditto DisasterCh1ck completely. It would make a great anecdote to put in your personal statement, and you'd almost certainly be asked to elaborate on the story at your interviews.
You may want to include (as supplemental info) a copy of that letter as well as before and after photos of the Vytorin bottle with your applications.

Anonymous said...

Add one more to that vote that you should include it. As DisasterCh1ck pointed out, you aren't walking a thin line of anything if you not only include a copy of the letter but also point out that, hey, you are a good problem-solver. If they want to confirm the story, they have the letter-writer's name.

Pharmacy student

Joshua Sophy said...

The latest on Vytorin can be found here: