Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Differences in generic pill characteristics may lead to interruptions in essential medication use

Date:
December 31, 2012
Source:
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Summary:
Researchers have found that some patients who receive generic drugs that vary in their color are over 50 percent more likely to stop taking the drug, leading to potentially important and potentially adverse clinical effects.

Generic medications currently account for over 70 percent of prescriptions dispensed. However, while generic drugs are clinically bioequivalent to the brand-name version, they often differ in their physical characteristics, such as color and shape. Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) have found that some patients who receive generic drugs that vary in their color are over 50 percent more likely to stop taking the drug, leading to potentially important and potentially adverse clinical effects.

The study will be published online Dec. 31, 2012 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

"Pill appearance has long been suspected to be linked to medication adherence, yet this is the first empirical analysis that we know of that directly links pills' physical characteristics to patients' adherence behavior," explained Aaron S. Kesselheim MD, JD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics at BWH, and principal investigator of this study. "We found that changes in pill color significantly increase the odds that patients will stop taking their drugs as prescribed."

The researchers conducted a case-control study of patients taking antiepileptic drugs and compared the odds that patients who did not refill their medication had been given pills that differed in color or shape from the prior prescriptions. Using a large national database of filled prescriptions, when the researchers identified a break in the patient's use of the drug, they looked at the previous two prescription fillings to see if they were the same color and shape. They found that interruptions in the prescription filling occurred significantly more frequently when the pills had different color. Interruptions in antiepileptic drug use for even a few days can raise the risk of seizure and have important medical and social consequences for patients.

These findings offer important take-home messages for physicians, pharmacists, and patients. As Kesselheim explained, "Patients should be aware that their pills may change color and shape, but that even differently-appearing generic drugs are approved by the FDA as being bioequivalent to their brand-name counterparts and are safe to take. Physicians should be aware that changes in pill appearance might explain their patients' non-adherence. Finally, pharmacists should make a point to tell patients about the change in color and shape when they change generic suppliers."

Researchers acknowledge that medication adherence is a multi-faceted issue, but suggest that taking steps to permit (or even require) similarity in pill appearance among bioequivalent brand name and generic drugs may offer a relatively simple way to contribute to better adherence.

This research was supported by a career development award from the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (K08HS18465-01), and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award in Health Policy Research. Dr. Choudhry has received unrestricted research grants from CVS Caremark, Aetna, the Commonwealth Fund, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to study medication adherence. Dr. Shrank has received unrestricted research funding from CVS Caremark, Aetna, Teva, Lilly, and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Brigham and Women's Hospital. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kesselheim AS, Misono AS, Shrank WH, et al. Variations in Pill Appearance of Antiepileptic Drugs and the Risk of Nonadherence. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2012; DOI: 10.1001/2013.jamainternmed.997

Cite This Page:

Brigham and Women's Hospital. "Differences in generic pill characteristics may lead to interruptions in essential medication use." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121231161041.htm>.
Brigham and Women's Hospital. (2012, December 31). Differences in generic pill characteristics may lead to interruptions in essential medication use. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121231161041.htm
Brigham and Women's Hospital. "Differences in generic pill characteristics may lead to interruptions in essential medication use." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121231161041.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Newsy (July 19, 2014) Research on plaque from ancient teeth shows that our prehistoric ancestor's had a detailed understanding of plants long before developing agriculture. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Contaminated Water Kills 3 Babies in South African Town

Contaminated Water Kills 3 Babies in South African Town

AFP (July 18, 2014) Contaminated water in South Africa's northwestern town of Bloemhof kills three babies and hospitalises over 500 people. The incident highlights growing fears over water safety in South Africa. Duration: 02:22 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins