Target pharmacy customers upset about new pill bottles

After CVS began operating Target’s drugstores this year, disgruntled customers are asking the store to bring back the traditional red prescription bottles.

Customers say the bottles were easier to read and to organize due to their color-coded rings and labeling on top.

According to the Associated Press, CVS said it’s working on designing a new system for dispensing prescriptions and helping people stay on their medications, but spokeswoman Carolyn Castel declined to share details or say whether that might involve an updated bottle design.

Castel said the company stopped using Minneapolis-based Target Corp.'s bottles because it's more efficient to fill prescriptions with the same bottle at all of its 9,600 pharmacies. While customer visits to Target's in-store pharmacies slipped in the second quarter, Castel said CVS doesn't see a connection between that and the change in prescription bottles. 

In the meantime, shoppers continue to mourn the loss of a bottle that was considered groundbreaking when it debuted about a decade ago and was once on display at New York's Museum of Modern Art.

Back in 2005, Target flipped bottle design on its head when it introduced a red container with the opening on the bottom. That allowed the label to wrap around the top so it could be seen from above. It included a flat surface that customers found easier to read than the curve of a typical pill bottle, and it came with color-coded rings for the neck to help family members quickly tell their medicines apart.

Art student Deborah Adler devised the new approach as part of her master's thesis at New York's School of Visual Arts. She was inspired to try something different after her grandmother mistakenly took her grandfather's prescription. Adler now runs her own design business and is working with CVS on its new prescription system.

Kentucky resident Vivian Ruth Sawyer told the Associated Press that she “went fishing through her trash to rescue the old Target bottles soon after opening her stapled prescription bag to find the dowdy, white-capped amber vials that are common in most medicine cabinets.”

Sawyer said she still pours refills of her thyroid medicine into the old Target bottles, even though they don't have the right expiration dates. She said it's worth it because the bottles make it easier to tell her prescriptions apart when she looks in her drawer for them.

"This is really inconvenient and irritating," Sawyer said.