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New pill bottle could save lives

The familiar prescription pill bottle is getting a face-lift. As NBC's Robert Bazell reports, the new design just might help save lives.

There is a new bottle for prescription drugs designed to enhance safety, the first new design since the familiar plastic bottles that have been around for 50 years.

Helen Adler made a mistake that led to the new design. She got sick from taking her husband's medication.

"I take a lot of pills! I don't even count them," she says. "Instead of taking my pill, I took his pill."

When Helen's granddaughter Deborah Adler learned about the incident, she set out to bring a change. As a graphic designer, she realized pill bottles could be much more user-friendly.

"At the end of the day, the responsibility for how to take your medicine falls on you," says Adler. "You bring home your medicine, you have no other contact with doctors or pharmacists, so overall, the bottle and the label is your only form of communication."

Adler, who now works for the Milton Glazer design firm, came up with several ideas before she developed the new design which she sold to Target Corp.

The new bottle has a different color-coded band for every member of the family. All grandma's bottles, for instance, could be coded green. The drug's name and instructions for use are big and written on flat surfaces, instead of wrapped around a tiny bottle. Additional information about the drug is printed on a card that stays tucked in a space on the bottle, instead of a piece of paper often thrown away.

Target is using the new bottles starting this month and health safety experts hope other companies will adapt similar designs.

"I think that this is really going to relieve people's level of stress and help them feel more secure when they are taking their medication," says Deborah Adler.

The hope is that people like Helen Adler can easily see that they are taking the right drug, in the right dose, at the right time.