If a Renewed Prescription Involves Changes in Pill Color, Patients May Be Less Likely to Follow Through

Patients may be less likely to continue taking the medication as prescribed if pills in a refilled prescription are a different color from those in the prior prescription, say the authors of a new study. (Image: David Walker/iStockphoto.com)

Patients may be less likely to continue taking the medication as prescribed if pills in a refilled prescription are a different color from those in the prior prescription, say the authors of a new study. (Image: David Walker/iStockphoto.com)

Changes in pill color that patients often experience—typically when they switch from a brand-name drug to a generic version (or vice versa) or from one generic version to another—may make patients less likely to continue taking their medications as prescribed, say researchers whose findings appeared Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine (formerly Archives of Internal Medicine).

The researchers looked at 11 472 patients who were not persistent in filling their prescriptions for antiepileptic medication and a control group of 50 050 who did not delay in refilling prescriptions. There were both brand-name and generic versions of each of 7 different antiepileptic drugs, which presented an array of 37 colors and 4 shapes. The researchers found that after a minimum of 3 dispensings, 1.20% of these patients had been given pills that differed in color from the prior prescription. The odds of a color change occurring immediately before a filling gap was 27% greater for those who were not persistent in refilling their prescriptions compared with the control group. Continue reading

Patients With Access to Their Physicians’ Notes May Have a Better Sense of Control Over Their Health

Patients with access to their physicians’ notes may gain a better sense of control over their health care. (Image: lionvision/iStockphoto.com)

Results from a pilot study suggest that patients who have online access to their physicians’ electronic notes may be more engaged and understanding of their health and become more reliable in taking medications as prescribed. The findings appear today in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The study involved 105 primary care physicians who volunteered to give their patients online access to personal medical records for a 12-month period. The study was conducted in a major urban hospital in Boston, an integrated health system in rural Pennsylvania, and a county hospital in Seattle and involved physicians who participated in OpenNotes, a program primarily funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Continue reading

Drug Delivery Goes Wireless via Microchip

An implantable microchip (right) that’s no bigger than a computer memory stick is the first wireless programmable drug delivery device proven successful in a clinical study. (Image: MicroCHIPS Inc, Massachusetts)

An implantable microchip no bigger than a computer memory stick has succeeded as the first wireless, programmable drug delivery device. During a press briefing today, one of its developers said the chip could help usher in a new era of dispensing medication.

Academic and industry scientists who collaborated on the microchip say it could be ready for the medical device approval process in 4 years. But other experts say it’s too soon to speculate about clinical use, noting that further study is needed to answer questions about the chip’s reliability and durability. Continue reading

Long-term Care May Help More Smokers Quit

Anne M. Joseph, MD, MPH, of the University of Minnesota, and her colleagues found that compared with typical short-term smoking cessation therapies, longer-term smoking cessation treatment that includes medication, counseling, and strategies for handling relapse helps more smokers quit. (Image: Richard G. Anderson)

As many smokers consider going cold turkey and abruptly quitting their smoking habit this holiday season, new evidence is emerging that committing to a long-term course of smoking cessation treatment that includes reducing smoking may be a more effective strategy than short-term treatment options.

In a study published today in the Archives of Internal Medicine, Anne M. Joseph, MD, MPH, of the University of Minnesota, and her colleagues randomly assigned smokers to receive 1 year of telephone-based care, including counseling and medication, or the usual smoking cessation treatment, which involves just 8 weeks of telephone-based care and medication. While most smoking cessation programs focus on total abstinence, the long-term care group in the study included strategies for different contingencies: when smokers were abstinent, when they had relapsed but were smoking less, or when they had resumed smoking at the same levels they had engaged in before they attempted to quit. At 18 months after the trial started, 30.2% of the smokers who received long-term care reported that they had not smoked in 6 months, compared with 23.5% in the usual-care group. Dr Joseph discussed the results with news@JAMA.

news@JAMA: Why do you believe the strategy involving longer-term care was more successful than usual care? Continue reading