Pill mix-up (not thyroid)

I've had a bit of a fright, from mixing up my pills for a couple of days.

Being on a long-term course of medication, I got used to the shape and colours of my pills. I changed pharmacies, from the busy one nearest the surgery, to a small independent with longer opening hours and no long queues. I've noticed they chop and change their suppliers, and had some problems with Teva Levothyroxine, but it had lodged in my head that pills have standardized shapes and colours, as an aid to identification. I'd noticed a recent antibiotic had almost the same colours and shape as Ramipril, but is larger. It struck me that more effort could've been put into the design. And "horse-pill" size antibiotics used to cause me considerable difficulties in swallowing them.

But this week's problem was when I started a new pack of an alpha-blocker and didn't notice it had changed from what drugs.com calls a capsule shape, to round ones, similar enough to the diuretic I take to muddle them and take two and a half times the dose of alpha blocker.

Checking at drugs.com shows quite a range of shapes and colours for this drug, without the standardization I'd expected, so I'll take care to be more observant in future!

11 Replies

I've had some recent problems with pills too. I was used to one of them being a kind of mustard yellow. But a few months ago it changed to white, and I keep on getting it muddled up with other things I take. I have noticed that the patient information leaflet still describes it as yellow.

I should have added that I make extensive use of daily and weekly pill boxes to help me keep tabs on what I've taken and what I've forgotten.

I was put on ordinary Nifedipine by a hospital doctor, and left on it for several months until I questioned why, as NICE guidance states it's unsuitable for treating hypertension. It ruined my short-term memory, so an "Anabox" was one of the first things I got. I currently load it with two days' worth of pills.

I fill up my boxes once a week. I try to pick a time to do it when my brain fog is not too bad. If I fill up just a few sections of my pill boxes more than once a week I tend to get bored and take less care over it, and then I make mistakes. I have a very low boredom threshold.

Sorry to hear about the problem you had with prescribed medication. :(

The doctors at the European Centre of Excellence appear not to have been up to speed with recommendations that had been issued over a decade earlier: ptcommunity.com/system/file...

A year or so later I asked a pharmacist about it at the same hospital, and was told ward doctors are a law unto themselves.

That is sufficient to put in a report. They have included a link to Defective medicine reporting under Yellow Card now:


The PIL absolutely MUST reflect the reality of the medicine.

I keep mine all separate. Different pill boxes for thyroxine & others. A load of boxes but at least no mix up!

I could use that as an excuse to start a collection of Crummles' Beatrix Potter pill boxes...

If you visit this link, you can put whatever selection criteria you wish - and see what pills match:


Very USA-biased. But illuminating.

Would it help if you asked your chemist to put your medication into a Nomad box?

My husband gets very confused with all his different daily tablets. It has been made much simpler for him with the Nomad box system that has a weekly supply of tablets but broken down to daily Morning, Mid-day,Evening, Supper so this eliminates any confusion.

I have to think about my own medication when the chemist shop chooses to order from a different supplier and a tablet is completely unrecognizable from previously. This is obviously done for cheaper prices but being confused about medication isn't good at all.

Thanks for the tip. I found more at: forums.moneysavingexpert.co...

One of my problems with dealing with the blister packs for 11 pills per day, is the abrasion to the skin on the tip of my thumb. I've already developed several warts on my fingers, due to small burns from baking trays etc., and came across this rather scary quote: "Treatment and cure of HPV in the immunocompromised is both imperative and challenging."

I should start using a pair of scissors to release the pills.

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