Different Manufacturer, But Still the Same Drug

You have been refilling the same generic drug prescription at your pharmacy for months without any incident, but this time you were given a medication that appears to have a different shape, color or size. The pharmacist says it is the same medication that you have taken before. I know it is confusing and you wonder why you were given a different pill. It is confusing, and unfortunately, it’s fairly common.

For example:

You are admitted into the hospital and you are given a white pill for high blood pressure while there. Then, when you are discharged from the hospital, the pharmacy gives you a pink pill for high blood pressure! Guess what? It is the same pill, just a different manufacturer! It is amazing to know that pills can come in different colors, shapes, and sizes, yet they are still the same drug and work the same way.

  • There are only a few medications that are very specific where different generic and brand names should not be substituted. In this case, the pharmacy will make every effort to keep the same brands in stock.
  • Rarely, very small variations among the same generics with different manufacturers could affect some people’s response to the medication.
  • Most of the time, changing manufacturers is not a problem.
  • However, a generic drug that looks different can also be dangerous if it causes you to have confusion about your medications.

For example:

Some people are depending on color or shape to differentiate, such as “The white pill is for my heart, and I take it in the morning. The pink one is for high blood pressure, and I take it twice a day.” Some people may mix several pills in one bottle. If you get into that habit, and then there is a switch in manufacturers, it could confuse you as a patient. Rather than mixing your medications, organize them in a weekly pillbox. Just ask and your pharmacy can provide one. This will allow you to be sure you are getting all the medications you need.

  • Medications come in different shapes, colors, and sizes
  • Many Medications are available from different manufacturing companies as generics, much like different brands of items at the grocery store. 
  • The same generic drug, made by a different manufacturer can indeed look different! 
  • This is because by law, the generic drug manufacturers are not allowed to copy how a brand-name pill looks in terms of its shape, color and size. 
  • Pharmacies may change between different brand and generic medications based on what is available to them from the suppliers and on cost. 
  • Sometimes different generic medication are used for patients admitted in the hospital than the ones that they are sent home with after discharge. 
  • The results is that you might receive pills that do not look the same as what you were taking before even though they are the same generic medication.