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Best medication dispensers

Four pill types
(Image credit: Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay)

The older we get, the more pills we’re generally taking. And, the less likely we are to take the right ones, at the right time, consistently.

Depending on the person and their medication, this can be a minor problem or a complete catastrophe.

At a basic level, a good pill dispenser must be able to alert that its time to take pills and present those to be taken.

Beyond those requirements, some devices can handle very complex medication regimes, alert caregivers that medication wasn’t taken, and restrict access to only daily doses.

The greater the complexity and control, the more these devices can cost, and some are only available as a subscription service.

Here are five of the best solutions for those that need their medication to be regulated, and are happy to use some elegant technology to help make that happen.

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TabTime Super 8

(Image credit: TabTime)

1. TabTime Super 8

A cheap and cheerful reminder

Timer: Yes | Alarm: Yes | Compartments: 8 | Daily Alarms: 8 | Size: 11 x 6 x 3 cm

Affordable
Flexible usage
Easily portable
No access controls
Difficult to open for those with arthritis

The TabTime Super 8 is a relatively inexpensive device that is designed to remind its owner to take their pills and can do so up to eight times each day.

With an audible alert that’s volume adjustable and flashing light, users are prompted when to take the contents. And, even if they miss the alert sound, the light continues to flash to indicate that a dose has been missed until the TabTime Super 8 is opened.

With eight compartments that can each take up to five pills, this dispenser can be used for a complicated daily routine or a much simpler once-a-day weekly pattern.

The limitations are that it doesn’t restrict access to the contents, and the small compartments might be an insufficient size for some. And, the size of the compartment lids might prove difficult for those with limited dexterity in their hands.

But in the plus column, it is extremely portable, and ideal for those that travel or change locations regularly. It’s small enough to fit in a pocket or hand luggage, and

At less than $25 the TabTime Super 8 is a cost-effective way to organise medication and be reminded when to take it.

Philips Medication Dispenser

(Image credit: https://www.lifeline.philips.com/pill-dispenser/health-mdp.html)

2. Philips Medication Dispenser

Pill popping par excellence

Timer: Yes | Alarm: Yes | Compartments: 60 | Daily Alarms: 6

Complex regimes
Alerts caregivers
Battery backup
Costly subscription

The Philips Medication Dispenser isn’t like anything that you might buy from an online retailer, as this is part of subscription service where the hardware is provided but never owned.

It’s also a device that is meant to be controlled by a caregiver, and therefore is perfect for those supporting others that have illnesses that impair judgement.

Doses are pre-loaded into individual cups, and the unit can take sixty of these and dispense up to six of them per day. That massive capacity provides plenty of flexibility either in the length of time between refills or the complexity of regime.

Dispensing is programmable, allowing for both timed and on-demand requirements.

The caregiver can be alerted if pills aren’t taken when they should and if the on-demand feature has been activated.

But the one feature that impressed us most was that the Philips Medication Dispenser can cope with power cuts, and operate up to 18 hours on internal batteries.

The catch for such a clever and feature-filled device is that it costs $59.95 per month, and you must also pay a $99 one time installation cost.

That overhead might seem excessive, but for those that take complicated medication plans and can’t afford mistakes, it can be justified expenditure.

LiveFine Automatic Pill Dispenser

(Image credit: https://www.livefineproducts.com/collections/main/products/ivpilldcgrp-automatic-pill-dispenser-28-day-electronic-medication-organizer-with-alarm-reminders)

3. LiveFine Automatic Pill Dispenser

A carousel of medication

Timer: Yes | Alarm: Yes | Compartments: 28 | Daily Alarms: 6 | Size: 20.1 x 20.1 x 9.9 cm

28-day capability
Secure access
Easy to use
Not 100% secure

The LiveFine Automatic Pill Dispenser promises much and delivers on many of those claims.

A dispenser that can hold up to 18 aspirin sized pills in each of the 28 compartments, allowing for nearly a whole monthly cycle or more complicated daily plans to be handled easily.

At up to six times a day, an alarm can be set to take medication that the act of dispensing shuts off. All the medication taker needs to do is pick up the device and tip out the pills to take. It’s all very straightforward, and LiveFine provides six helpful templates that you can insert to show what period each compartment represents.

Where it is better than a solution like the TabTime Super 8 or similar, is that the unit has a security lock that a caregiver can use to restrict access to the alert timer and the contained medication. 

The lock should significantly reduce the possibility of an overdose, or the taking of the wrong medication. However, we did notice that it is possible to pry the cover off if you’re determined enough or have access to tools.

The current cost of the LiveFine Automatic Pill Dispenser is $79.99, a reduction of $50 on the typical price not long ago.

Livi automated medication dispenser

(Image credit: https://www.liviathome.com/features)

4. Livi automated medication dispenser

Bordering on a personal pharmacist

Timer: Yes | Alarm: Yes | Days of Medication: 90 | Medications: 15 | Daily Alarms: 24 | Size: 32.7 x 23.4 x 48.5 cm

Amazingly sophisticated
90-day refills
Remote changes possible
Expensive

In terms of dealing with the most complicated medication regimes, it doesn’t get much better than the Livi automated medication dispenser.

Where many solutions can only handle symmetrical pills of the same size, this one can cope with up to 15 prescriptions in a range of shapes and sizes.

Dispensing can be scheduled or on-demand up to 24 times a day, and it can hold up to 90 days of each medication. Therefore, it doesn’t need to be refilled each day or even every month, and there should be plenty available if you have special on-demand needs, like allergy suppressants.

But where this solution is a step up from almost everything else is that it can be controlled remotely using a computer or mobile device, allowing for adjustments to be easily made.

As part of a subscription service, the dispenser is connected via an AT&T cellular data connection, making it independent of any local WiFi internet service.

Something this flexible and controllable was never going to be inexpensive, and a new unit costs $979, and that includes a year of warranty, data and customer support. After the first year, service is charged at $24.95 per month.

Refurbished units can be bought more cheaply, but the service costs will still apply.

e-pill Vibrating Pocket Pillbox

(Image credit: https://www.epill.com/pocketalarm.html)

5. e-pill Vibrating Pocket Pillbox

Pocketable pills

Timer: Yes | Alarm: Yes | Compartments: 4 | Daily Alarms: 4 | Size: 7 x 6.6 x 2.2 cm

Pocket-sized
Easy to use
Only 4 compartments
No access restrictions

The e-pill Vibrating Pocket Pillbox is programmable dose alerts box with audio vibration alarms.

A maximum of four alarms can be set for each day, although the major limitation of this solution is that only four dispensing compartments are available on the back.

As each of these compartments holds around eight pills, that’s a maximum of 32 doses, or a months worth of once-a-day or just over a week of four daily pills.

The number of compartments is the major weakness of this device.

If you have more than one medication, four compartments might not be enough, and there isn’t any way to know if the medication was taken or the alarm was merely cancelled.

Alarms can be snoozed for four or eight minutes if the timing isn’t convenient.

Where the e-pill Vibrating Pocket Pillbox excels is that the compact box is a truly a go-anywhere option that will easily fit in a pocket or handbag.

Being able to carry more than a week's worth of medication for those that have up to four different pills per day is ideal for those that travel and need their pills close at hand.

This e-pill product is an interesting alternative to the TabTime Super 8, and at $39.95 it is affordable.