(HealthDay News) — For patients with cardiovascular disease, a change in color or shape of generic drugs is associated with increased odds of medication nonpersistence, according to research published in the July 15 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Aaron S. Kesselheim, MD, JD, MPH, from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues examined whether inconsistent appearance of generic drugs is associated with nonpersistent use among patients with cardiovascular disease after myocardial infarction. Participants included patients discharged after hospitalization for myocardial infarction between 2006–2011 who started treatment with a generic β-blocker, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, angiotensin II-receptor blocker, or statin. Case patients were those who discontinued their index medication for at last one month, while controls continued treatment and were matched to cases on therapeutic class, number of dispensings before nonpersistence, sex, and age.

Overall, 29% of patients had a pill shape or color change during the study, with the most changes in pill appearance seen for statins and the fewest for β-blockers. The researchers matched 4,573 episodes of nonpersistence to 19,881 control episodes. In case patients, the odds of nonpersistence increased after a change in color and shape (adjusted odds ratios, 1.34 and 1.66, respectively).

“Variation in the appearance of generic drug pills is associated with nonpersistence to essential drugs after myocardial infarction among patients with cardiovascular disease,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to CVS Caremark and Aetna.

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