UNDATED (CBS) -- Generic drugs are used for more than half of the medications Americans take every year. But now a new study finds many people are not taking them as prescribed.
Mort Allen, 73, takes medication for high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes. Managing all those prescriptions can be confusing at times. He says, "This one drug, it's either blue or white, it changes colors, and so you don't really know."
Many of his pills are generic which can vary in color and shape from brand names. Now a new study from Brigham and Women's Hospital shows when pills look different patients are 50 percent more likely to stop taking them. Dr. Ike, PharmD says, "So if you're used to taking these guys, and if we give you this, you're going to be obviously confused. You're going to say what is this white pill, mine is oblong."
Generic medications account for over 70-percent of prescriptions filled in the U.S. Doctors say it's important that patients understand just because your drugs look different, they're still the same. Dr. Ike says, "During consult we'll tell them there's a difference in shape and size, in addition we put a little sticker on bottle saying the same exact information."
Patients should also talk to their doctor and pharmacist if they have any questions.
Allen keeps the line of communication open with his pharmacist. But with so many medications to keep track of, he knows he has to pay close attention." Allen says, "Little tray things, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday-- you put one in each one."
He wants to make sure he's taking the right drugs at the right time
To make things less confusing, the study recommends the Food and Drug Administration reconsider its current regulatory policy and require that companies make brand name drugs and generic versions that look more alike.