Sunday, July 24, 2022

The Art of the Pill

I think I should start out by saying that I have neither medical training nor a great deal of knowledge of the subject. I am just a very curious older person so here is what I found.

It all began this morning while I looked at my dish of pills. I realized why older people speak of their “pill cocktail” it is certainly a medical mix. Looking at my dish a bit longer I started to wonder who comes up with these colors and shapes. I have not, to my knowledge, seen duplicates of the exact shape, color and size of any one of them.

When a new drug comes on the market, naturally Research and Development are involved. The quantity of the ingredients or the desired time release, be it immediate, gradual or long release, may dictate the size of the pill or capsule. Also, it has to be a size that is easy to swallow. Sometimes it is recommended that you take two 25 milligram pills rather than one 50 milligram pill

To my amazement, marketing also plays a role as to a pill’s color. In and of itself it has no bearing on the efficacy of the drug. Still, research has shown the associations patients make with the colors may affect how they respond psychologically to the drugs. There are some colors you rarely see on a tablet, brown comes to mind, though you may find it on a capsule.

I was just curious about this subject, but to some it is a serious concern. At they answer questions such as:

-What's this pill I just found in my teen's pocket?

-Was my prescription filled correctly? It looks different.

-My pills are mixed up. Which pill should I take?

-So why are they so smart? Do they know the secret password?

Well, the answer is, yes, they do. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) requires that every prescription drug has an imprint code, so that not only can poison control and health care providers identify the pills, but also law enforcement and others. The imprint code identifies the size, shape, color, ingredients, strength, plus manufacturer and distributor of the product.

An imprint code can be a single letter, number, combination of letters and numbers, or words, company names, National Drug Code or a mark, symbol, logo or monogram. It is the drug company that makes this decision. There can be more complications but that is not what I set out to write about.

Even though generic drugs are made by different manufacturers and therefore may come in different colors, shapes and sizes, the FDA demands that they have an imprint code.

One final comment … older people obviously have far less understanding of advanced technology than those who grew up with it. As I was doing my on-line research I was astounded by the following question and answer:

“Can I take a picture to identify a pill? With auto capture, the app continuously takes pictures of your pill until a result is found. Smart Pill ID uses Artificial Intelligence to search for your pill in our databases using its inscription, color, shape, and size.”

I remain curious, even if there is an app for everything!

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