Why Is the Color of a Medication Important?

color of a medication

According to the US Food and Drug Administration, medication errors are the most common type of mistake made in health care.1 However, the color of a medication can reduce the risk of these errors by helping patients confirm that they are taking the correct drug and/or dose.2 A medicine’s color may also help to reduce the risk of dispensing errors in pharmacies and hospitals.3


Multiple medications

As we age, many of us need multiple medications each day to help manage our chronic health conditions. The typical Medicare patient, for example, may take as many as 18-24 different prescription drugs each year.4 To make matters more confusing, many of these medications may look alike or very similar to one another. Note the visual similarities in the sampling of high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes medicines, below, compared to the bright blue color of a Mitigare®(colchicine) 0.6 mg capsule.


The significance of color

The color of a medication is important for a number of reasons:

Easy identification

A distinctive color can help you confirm that you are taking the correct medicine and dose. Medicines with a distinctive color, such as Mitigare® (colchicine) 0.6 mg capsules, are recognizable as soon as you open the bottle. Medicines that stand out from others may also be easier to identify for people who take multiple medications.2

Dose confirmation

Some medications, such as Synthroid® (levothyroxine sodium tablets, USP) and Coumadin® (Warfarin Sodium Tablets, USP) Crystalline, are available in multiple dosages. These doses are color-coded to enable healthcare professionals and patients to confirm the correct dose at a glance.

Reduced risk of dispensing errors

In 2016, more than 4 billion prescriptions were filled at US pharmacies.5 Some retail stores require their pharmacists to fill hundreds of prescriptions each day, working nonstop for as long as 12 hours at a time.6 Medication color may make it easier for pharmacists to recognize a medicine and confirm that a prescription has been accurately filled.3


Medication tips

Taking your medicines as prescribed is an important part of maintaining your overall health and well being. Keep the following tips in mind to take your medications safely7:

  • Always keep your medicines in their original containers
  • Understand that heat, light and air can damage your medicines; be sure to store them as directed
  • Never use a medicine that has changed in color or appearance


Talk with your doctor or pharmacist

If you are having trouble keeping track your medicines or have questions about the drugs you’re taking, be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist. He or she may be able to help you find ways to manage your medicines and stay more organized.


NOTE: This article was not written by a medical professional and is not intended to substitute the guidance of a physician. These are not West-Ward’s recommendations for gout flare prevention, but rather facts and data collected from various reliable medical sources. For a full list of resources and their attributing links, see below.

All registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners.



  1. Safety Considerations for Product Design to Minimize Medication Errors—Guidance for Industry. FDA website. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/downloads/drugs/guidancecomplianceregulatoryinformation/guidances/ucm331810.pdf. Accessed February 28, 2018.
  2. Medicines and You: A Guide for Older Adults. FDA website. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/ucm163959.htm#taking. Accessed February 28, 2018.
  3. Carayon P, ed. Human Factors and Ergonomics in Health Care and Patient Safety. 2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2012.
  4. White Paper—What Is the Significance of a Color of a Pill? Wallcur, LLC website. Available at: http://www.wallcur.com/whitepaper-pill-color.aspx. Accessed February 28, 2018.
  5. State Health Facts—Total Number of Retail Prescription Drugs Filled at Pharmacies. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation website. Available at: https://www.kff.org/health-costs/state-indicator/total-retail-rx-drugs/?currentTimeframe=0&selectedRows=%7B%22wrapups%22:%7B%22united-states%22:%7B%7D%7D%7D&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D. Accessed February 28, 2018.
  6. House bill aims to increase pharmacy safety, draws fire. Chicago Tribune website. Available at: ttp://www.chicagotribune.com/news/watchdog/druginteractions/ct-drug-interactions-flowers-pharmacy-20170207-story.html. Accessed February 28, 2018.
  7. Storing your medicines. MedlinePlus website. Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000534.htm. Accessed February 28, 2018.

Important Safety Information for Mitigare® (colchicine) 0.6 mg capsules

  • Colchicine 0.6 mg capsules are contraindicated in patients with renal or hepatic impairment who are currently prescribed drugs that inhibit both P-gp and CYP3A4. Combining these dual inhibitors with colchicine in patients with renal or hepatic impairment has resulted in life-threatening or fatal colchicine toxicity. Patients with both renal and hepatic impairment should not be given Mitigare®.
  • Fatal overdoses have been reported with colchicine in adults and children. Keep Mitigare® out of the reach of children.
  • Blood dyscrasias such as myelosuppression, leukopenia, granulocytopenia, thrombocytopenia, and aplastic anemia have been reported with colchicine used in therapeutic doses.
  • Monitor for toxicity and if present consider temporary interruption or discontinuation of colchicine.
  • Drug interaction with dual P-gp and CYP3A4 inhibitors: Co-administration of colchicine with dual P-gp and CYP3A4 inhibitors has resulted in life-threatening interactions and death.
  • Neuromuscular toxicity and rhabdomyolysis may occur with chronic treatment with colchicine in therapeutic doses, especially in combination with other drugs known to cause this effect. Patients with impaired renal function and elderly patients (including those with normal renal and hepatic function) are at increased risk. Consider temporary interruption or discontinuation of Mitigare®.
  • The most commonly reported adverse reactions with colchicine are gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.


Mitigare® is indicated for prophylaxis of gout flares in adults. The safety and effectiveness of Mitigare for acute treatment of gout flares during prophylaxis has not been studied.

Mitigare® is not an analgesic medication and should not be used to treat pain from other causes.

For Full Prescribing Information please CLICK HERE and for Medication Guide CLICK HERE.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA.

Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Manufactured by: West-Ward Columbus Inc., Columbus, OH 43228

Important Safety Information for Mitigare® (colchicine) 0.6 mg capsules

  • Colchicine 0.6 mg capsules are contraindicated in patients with renal or hepatic impairment who are currently prescribed drugs that inhibit both P-gp and CYP3A4.