Change in Pill Color Plays Role in Rx Adherence
By Michael Smith, North American Correspondent, MedPage Today. Published: January 02, 2013. Reviewed by F. Perry Wilson, MD, MSCE; Instructor of Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
Something as small as the color of a generic medication can confuse patients enough to interrupt their treatment, researchers reported.
In a case-control study, changes in pill color increased the risk that patients would not refill their anti-epileptic drug prescriptions, according to Aaron Kesselheim, MD, JD, of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues.
There was no statistically significant effect on refill rates based upon changes in pill shape, Kesselheim and colleagues reported online inArchives of Internal Medicine.
The researchers noted that generic medicines account for over 70% of U.S. prescriptions, and the proportion is expected to increase as some widely used drugs come off patent.
Such generic drugs must be biologically equivalent to the approved brand-name product, but they often vary in size, shape, and color, they noted.
"A patient taking five medicines, each produced by five generic manufacturers, theoretically faces over 3,000 possible arrays of pill appearances for what are, chemically and clinically speaking, the same drugs," Kesselheim and colleagues noted.
Those choices could confuse patients and result in poor adherence to therapy, they noted.