Pills come in all different shapes, sizes and textures, but that might not be enough to keep everything straight. Vitamin labels and the packaging on any nutritional supplement should contain more than just a list of information: there should also be an easy way to identify the medicine inside the bottle, such as a picture of what it looks like or a description of how best to take it.
A recently study published by Dr. Aaron Kesselheim looked at the way that seemingly superficial changes in the physical pills given to patients might lead them to misjudge their medications and make errors regarding their health.
The Washington Post's article on this study features comments from Kesselheim on the serious way that this can impact patients. His study, which examined the impact of changes to the medications of thousands of heart attack survivors, saw that there was a 66 percent the patients would stop taking their pills if the shape changed, and more than half would cease if the color was altered.
"It doesn't explain all the nonadherence, certainly," he was quoted as saying. "But it is a statistically significant and clinically meaningful amount."
In addition, MedPageToday spoke to one of the study's coathors, Niteesh Choudhry, who said that the physical aspect of a pill is the most important to remembering them. "Patients know their medications as the little blue pill, or the diamond one," Choudhry said.
This shows that labeling and identifying a medication to the consumer can have a very powerful effect. Companies should consider the way a color label printer might make all the difference in this respect.