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Patients 50% Less Likely to Take Generic Drugs Because of Color

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You can save a couple of bucks or more by taking generic drugs rather than their name brand counterparts. However, some people won't take the cheaper versions of their drugs for a very strange reason–the shape and color. You wouldn't think that such cosmetic reasons would make people shy away from taking a medication, but pharmaceutical researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital are studying this very topic because of its relevance.

Dr. Aaron S. Kesselheim, an assistant professor in the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics at Brigham and Women's Hospital and his colleagues found that pill color affected patients' rate of taking their prescription drugs by 50%. Specifically, Dr. Kesselheim and his colleagues found that when patients were given a generic version of their drug that varied in color, they were 50% more likely to stop taking it, leading to potentially serious consequences.

Up to this point, there has been no empirical research to back up claims that pill shape or color affect patients' willingness to take their prescription medication. But the new research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine lends support to the argument and encourages doctors and pharmacists to be explicit with their patients about prescription drug changes in shape or color if they are going to prescribe generic versions.