Did you ever notice that the pills you take may differ in size, shape, and color depending on whether they are a name brand or a generic pill? Look at the Advil or Motrin in your medicine cabinet and compare it with the generic ibuprophen. I never paid attention until Dad pointed out the differences in the pills he takes whenever his pharmacy changes the manufacturer. Take a look:
- Row 1 is a single baby aspirin
- Row 2 is the generic versions of his blood pressure medicine. Despite the fact that the four pills vary in shape, the formula for each is the same.
- Row 3 are two generic versions of the allergy medication, Singulair
- Row 4 is a thyroid supplement.
This can have dangerous consequences because it is clear that a change from a square yellow allergy medicine to a round yellow allergy pill could be confused with a similar-looking round yellow thyroid supplement, particularly when the person taking those pills is an elderly person living alone who may have beginning dementia issues. In addition, there are reports of people refusing to take the different appearing drug because of fear and distrust that the variation in shape or color is no longer the same pill.
Why does this happen, one may wonder? Apparently, patent laws do not permit generic drug manufacturers to produce drugs identical to the brand-name counterpart.
In my unprofessional opinion, this is a dumb law, and I think that while our presidential candidates are discussing plans to reduce drug prices, they may want to at least consider eliminating the patent law prohibiting generic drugs from copying the appearance of the brand-name drug. There is probably a good reason for such a law, but the confusion that this likely causes could have life-threatening consequences.
What are your thoughts?