Taste the Rainbow
The color of a capsule or tablet can have a big impact on compliance and branding, but remember: decisions must be made early to avoid development delays.
Nicolas Madit | | Opinion
Color has emerged as a critical design component of a medicine. Why? Color can have a big impact on patient compliance and is a great tool for brand recognition. Research shows that patients associate colors with certain feelings. Orange, for example, is perceived as warm, lively and stimulating, making it the preferred color for many stimulants. Colors can also differentiate a brand, improving recognition. Take Nexium for example – many people in the US likely know it as “the purple pill” that treats heartburn, and that the darker purple dosage form corresponds to the larger dose.
Another important point is security. Patients with a high pill burden may not be able to distinguish between various medicines of the same color. In fact, a few years ago, a diuretic drug had to be withdrawn after it was suspected that some packs contained a sedative. In fact, a geriatric patient had mistakenly taken the wrong pill because she had two different tablets that were both white and similar in size. If one had been a different color, the outcome may have been avoided. In addition, some colors may be easier for a child to accept rather than a white capsule or tablet.
Despite its importance, decisions about which color to use are often made far too late in the development process. Formulators often start the development with whatever color capsules are available in their laboratory. But deciding to change the color much later means completely redoing the development phase as regulatory authorities only accept stability data generated with the final color of the dosage form. Choosing the right combination of fill and capsule color is crucial to success in developing your product right from the start.
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