A nudge to reduce deaths from pill overdose

Ezekiel Emanuel writes in the NYTimes about a simple nudge to prevent people from overdosing (either intentionally or accidentally) on pills – change the packaging:

We need to make it harder to buy pills in bottles of 50 or 100 that can be easily dumped out and swallowed. We should not be selling big bottles of Tylenol and other drugs that are typically implicated in overdoses, like prescription painkillers and Valium-type drugs, called benzodiazepines. Pills should be packaged in blister packs of 16 or 25. Anyone who wanted 50 would have to buy numerous blister packages and sit down and push out the pills one by one. Turns out you really, really have to want to commit suicide to push out 50 pills. And most people are not that committed.

Emanuel cites data demonstrating the positive impacts of re-packaging in reducing both suicide and accidental deaths from Tylenol overdose in Britain. Although there are higher costs of production to package pills in those blister packs, the nudge is quite effective.

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