Generic Pill Color Affects Medication Adherence

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A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine showed that changes in pill color significantly increase the odds of patient nonadherence. Researchers discovered that subjects whose generic prescription medication changed colors from time of first fill were >50% more likely to stop consuming them.

Dr. Aaron S. Kesselheim, assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues set out to determine whether switching among different-appearing antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) was associated with increased rates of medication nonadherence. A nested case-control study was designed consisting of commercially insured patients who initiated an AED from 2001–2006. “Cases” were patients who became nonadherent, defined as failure to fill a prescription within 5 days of elapsed days supplied. “Controls” had no delay refilling and were matched by sex, age, number of refills, and the presence of a seizure disorder diagnosis.

Overall, the AEDs evaluated had 37 colors and 4 shapes. Results showed that 11,472 patients stopped getting their prescriptions and 50,050 others continued taking their medication. Within the seizures disorder subgroup, the risk of nonadherence after changes in pill color was also significantly elevated (odds ratio, 1.53 [95% confidence interval 1.07–2.18].

Based on the findings, study investigators support a reconsideration of current regulatory policy that permits wide variation in the appearance of bioequivalent drugs.

For more information visit http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1487287.

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