Prescription drug design

Hello Everyone,

I take several prescription medications every day including morphine, percocet and amphetamine. I have taken these for a while and have had them filled at various pharmacies. One thing that I have noticed is that the same drug from different manufacturers come in different shapes, sizes and even colors. It seems to me that this isn’t a real smart way of doing things. I can see someone getting confused, being used to a pill and getting a refill that doesn’t look familiar. Not to mention it would seem to me that an industry standard would aid in identification for doctors, EMT’s and police. Why isn’t there a design standard in place in the pharmaceutical industry? So many other products are uniformed between manufacturers for comparability and safety standards I would think that doing the same for drugs would be a no brainer.

One word… Trademark.

Every pharmaceutical company want’s to ensure that its particular pills are unique and distinctive from any others. This applies even to the same compound in different dosages from the same company.

It also discourages counterfeiting.

Currently, with more and more generics coming out, there are getting to be more lawsuits about this very issue.

Hi, I worked in the drug industry.

Drug companies do want their pills to look more or less unique. Of course, not all do, but many or most do. One goal is not to have people mistakenly take the wrong pill or too much of a pill because it looks like something else.

It would be nice if all of your, say, 500 mg acetaminophen pills from various makers looked exactly the same so that you could easily identify them, but there are so many generics from so many makers that it would be very hard to coordinate this.

Plus, what Khendrask said. Pfizer does not want makers designing their sildenafil tablets to look like “real” Viagra-branded sildenafil.

One final reason. Although as patients we refer to off-patent drugs not manufactured by the original maker as “generics,” they are not all so to the companies that produce them. “Generic” drug makers have their own brand names for chemical compounds and often promote individual benefits, such as purity, rate of dissolving, stuff like that. In such a case, they want their “generic” pills to look unique.

My assumption is that the OP’s meds are all generic, and as such, are arriving as plain white tablets.

From time to time, the pharmacy (more accurately, the corporation) wil change suppliers, and each generic supplier will have its own code numbers to stamp into the pills, so they are identifiable, but certainly not as easily as the brand-name meds that will typically have unique colors and/or shapes with the name printed on them.

FWIW, my pharmacy (CVS) puts a description of the pills on the bottle, such as “This is a white oblong tablet with P3 imprinted on one side and XYZ on the back.”

The reason I asked this question is that I keep two days worth of medication with me at all times in a little pill bottle designed to attach to a keychain. I carry it with me since I need to take the medication as needed at times. Recently I refilled the percocet and instead of being in the usual white round pill it was a long white oval. It looked just like the Pravistatin cholesterol pill I take but just a tiny bit larger. I was thinking that it would be easy to take a Pravistatin instead of a percocet and they really should be standardized so mix ups be a wouldn’t be a problem.