A portable medication dispenser aids and monitors regimen-conforming use of medications provided in standard as-marketed blister packages. A standard blister package and a separate, disposable sensor sheet are simply and easily loaded into a compact housing containing supervisory electronics, visual indicators, and an audible alarm. The sensor sheet consists of electrical or optical sensing regions corresponding to each individual compartment of the blister package. A compliant, electrically conductive or optical connector in the dispenser housing allows periodic scanning of the sensor sheet circuitry by the control circuitry in the dispenser housing without adding connector components to the low cost, disposable sensor sheet. When a medication is ejected through the backing layer of the standard blister package, an electrical or optical parameter associated with a corresponding region of the sensor sheet is altered, thereby permitting the control circuitry to monitor the dispensing event. Stored patient compliance data may then be reported remotely through an optical or electrical interface between the dispenser and an external system for review by the pharmacist/physician.