How the Color of Drugs Influence Efficacy, Adherence

the MPR take:

The color of a drug is more than just a way to make the pill appear attractive – it can also help to aid pill recognition for correct dosing by patients and protect light-sensitive products. Pill color has become integrated into the marketing of pharmaceuticals for branding purposes, but there are also cultural associations between colors and medications. Studies have indicated that color-effect associations by patients can impact the efficacy of a drug, with a bright yellow pill with the name imprinted on the surface possibly having greater reported efficacy in patients than a dull yellow one without a name. While blue is a common color for sedatives in the U.S., this color-effect doesn’t apply to Italian men; researchers believe it may be due to the fact that Italy’s national soccer team “gli Azzuri” (the Blues) wear blue uniforms and the men associate the color with the excitement of a soccer match. Colors can also help keep light-sensitive active ingredients stable and work with shape for drug recognition by pharmacists and patients, it may also have a negative effect if the colors are changed. Patients are more likely to stop their medication regimen if drug colors are changed, such as switching to a generic medication with a different color or shape. When discussing pharmacological treatments with your patients, discussing color may provide a psychological boost for medication adherence, while also alerting them to any variations that could lead to confusion over drug recognition.

Half of Americans Report Recent Rx Use, Says CDC
How the Color of Drugs Influence Efficacy, Adherence

A pill's hue can affect how it's judged by patients, how it's marketed, and even how well it works. The first time drug kingpin Tuco Salamanca tries Walter White's characteristically blue meth on the AMC drama Breaking Bad, his priorities are straightforward: He doesn't care about color, he just wants to get high.