For years I’ve read and seen stories about how seniors and the visually impaired have mixed up their medications and suffered serious consequences. I didn’t understand this until recently. One of the things that our pharmacy system does is use generic drugs whenever possible to keep the costs down. This is an excellent idea for all concerned but I have a question.
Why can’t they make different shapes and colors like the brand name drugs so that we old farts and the visually impaired can more easily tell them apart? I’m sure that it has to do with costs but please!
I noticed a little while back when I was taking my meds that I had to do a double check. First, I’m not on a lot of them thankfully but the ones I am using are identical in shape and most are nearly identical in size. If I wasn’t able to read some of the lettering on them, it would be simple to take an overdose of one and nothing of another. OK at the ripe old age of 62 I’m not exactly in the dotage stage of life but for someone with good eye sight and a working mind I’m having trouble so what about the people who aren’t as fortunate.
I remember several years back I had a friend who was a “detail rep” (fancy name for a pharmacology sales rep) for one of the major drug companies. They had a brand name pill for high blood pressure that had the rough and I emphasize “rough” shape of a heart. They had to change the shape because the government said that a child might mistake it for a candy. True, but what they found in their follow up studies was that seniors were now missing their doses because they no longer recognized their “heart pill”.
Why can’t we have some color and different shapes and sizes? I know that the way to make things cheaper is to have a uniform/homogeneous standard for manufacture but come on, can’t we spend a fraction of a cent to add some shape and color. I know, I know, what about the dyes that would be used to add the color?
Give me a break! If we’re worried about a little food coloring in our life, don’t buy anything pre-packaged. Check out the disclosures on most of these products. Also, if the high salt and fat in the fast food restaurant doesn’t concern you, why should a little color in your pills?
I’m now digressing once again. My mother was in a care facility for the last few years of her life. It was great facility and she was well taken care of and the same could be said for the other residents. One of the women at her dining table was 92 years of age. She reached for the salt shaker one night and the attendant said “You are on a low salt diet; I can’t let you have that.” Where upon my mother pipes up, “She’s 92 how much longer do you think she’s got. Let her have the damn salt!” Those old folks had a sense of reality.
Speaking of which, whenever anyone went to the great beyond, no one ever died in her facility they simply “left the building”. “Mrs. Smith left us last night.” I know it wasn’t right but on occasion I had to ask, “Where did she go?” I would then get a motherly scowl that told me that I should know better than to ask such a stupid question.
OK, back to the subject at hand. In my Mom’s case she had trained professionals that gave out the meds so there was little chance of a mix up. I shudder to think what she would have taken had she been left to her own means even though she had a sound mind.
So in closing, for those of you that are taking meds, don’t mistake them for your vitamins and visa versa. Cherish the days of the colored and shaped brand name drugs but whatever you do don’t forget to take your drugs regardless of shape or size. They are for your own good after all.