Dr. Aaron S. Kesselheim, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics at Brigham and Women's Hospital, and colleagues found some patients who received generic drugs that varied in color were more than 50 percent more likely to stop taking the drug, leading to potentially important and potentially adverse clinical effects.
"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," Kesselheim said in a statement. "We found that changes in pill color significantly increase the odds that patients will stop taking their drugs as prescribed."
The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, said 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," Kesselheim said.