A Convenient Inaccuracy or an Accurate Inconvenience?

 A Convenient Inaccuracy or an Accurate Inconvenience?

"Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything." Wyatt Earp

I’ve been thinking about accuracy lately.

And not because I have any inclination to engage in a Wild West type shootout like Mr. Earp did.

But because when it comes pharmaceutical dosing – when does convenience, or speed, become more important that accuracy?

Granted, pharma companies introducing new drugs have to keep in mind their patient population, and how to make the delivery of their new product as palatable, and convenient as possible. Otherwise no one would take the product, and compliance would tumble to unacceptable levels. This is not only bad for patients, who won’t get the drug’s benefits, but also detrimental to a company’s bottom line. You can’t sell a product no one will use.

So pharma companies have to walk that fine line between convenience and dosing accuracy.

For example, most companies that market children’s medicines – specifically OTC cough and cold meds have long been supplying dosing cups for their liquid medicines. This was a positive step forward, as prior to the inclusion of these cups directions called for teaspoons, but how much exactly is a teaspoon, and are all teaspoons made the same size?

Recently, there was a recall of a children’s anti-inflammatory medicine due the wrong measuring cap included with the product. The cap measured medicine in teaspoons – but the instructions called for measuring in milliliters. I’m sure most people looked at the directions and then at the cap and decided to just use a kitchen teaspoon instead of trying to convert teaspoons to milliliters. And there goes accuracy for the sake of convenience.

Closer to home, I’ve struggled with the accuracy of insulin pens. I do appreciate the technology that went into designing a convenient dosing instrument but I worry about its accuracy.

For example, if a pen contains 300 units and the daily dose is 25 units – I should be able to get 12 full doses out of one pen. But usually I get 12 and half or so. The last dose is usually around 12 – 13 units.


Does the pen hold less than 300 units to begin with? Is the dosing mechanism, which lets me dial in 25 units inaccurate? Is it both?

Is it too much to ask for accuracy?

Or should I take these measurements with a grain of salt?

And while we are thinking about it – how much exactly is a grain of salt?

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