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Changing the Shape and Color of Generic Drugs Leads to Dangerous Consequences

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Changing Appearance of Prescription Drugs Can Lead to Big Consequences

You wouldn’t think it would matter if a generic prescription drug manufacturer decided to tweak the appearance of one of their drugs.  Lets say the company wanted to change the shape, size or color of the drug–no big deal, right?  Wrong!  Recent studies have discovered that something as seemingly innocuous as changing the appearance of a generic prescription drug can result in big consequences for generic prescription drug users, particularly the elderly.  Specifically, changing the appearance of generic prescription drugs can result in people not taking their medications.

Study Looks at Generic Pill-Taking Habits of 10,000 Patients Across the U.S.

Researchers from Brigham and Women’s University in Boston looked at the pill-taking habits of 10,000 heart attack survivors following a hospital stay between 2006 and 2011.  In the first year after a heart attack, it is crucial that patients take beta blockers and cholesterol-lowering statins to preserve their health and prevent another heart attack.  It is common for patients to be prescribed generic drugs in place of name brand beta blockers or statins because they are cheaper.  However, when generic drug manufacturers changed the appearance of their drugs, the researchers found that the odds that a patient would stop taking a medication or fail to refill it the next time they ran out increased dramatically.  In fact, for a change in pill shape, the odds that a patient would stop taking the medication or fail to refill it jumped to 66%, and 34% for a change in pill color.

FDA Doesn’t Regulate Generic Drugs’ Appearance

Although the researchers admit some flaws in their study, including the fact that they did not include the patients’ socioeconomic status or enrollment in automatic refill programs at pharmacies, they nevertheless maintain the critical and significant findings of their study.  Unfortunately, the FDA does not require a consistent appearance for generic prescription drugs, and instead only regulates the chemical composition of generic drugs so that they are the same as the pricier brand name versions.  However, the FDA acknowledged last year the effect of changing generic drugs’ appearance on patient compliance, and issued a non-binding warning to generic drug manufacturers to seriously reconsider changing the appearance of their drugs.  In addition, the FDA also encourages doctors to warn their patients of potential changes in generic drugs’ appearance so that they won’t be surprised when they go to the pharmacy.

If you think you’ve been a victim of  Pharmacy / Pharmacist Negligence please contact Church Wyble immediately.