Many types of colourants are extensively used in the pharmaceutical industry. Colours and Pigments are used in tablets, syrups, capsules, ointments, etc. Someone may wonder why they even add colours to medicines and pharmaceutical products. After all, they are just medicines that are used for a purpose and not for pleasure. Then what is the need to add unnecessary colouring pigments to these products? Is it essential to add colours to pharmaceutical products?
One may think that the colours used in the pharma industry are used to make these medicines attractive to the consumer. While this is true to an extent, pharmaceutical colours have an extreme importance other than just attractiveness to the consumers.
Let us imagine if all medicines came in one colour and shape. What do you think will happen? How difficult would it be to differentiate the medication from each other without their packaging? Pharmaceutical products need to have colours and pigments added to them for a variety of significant reasons.
Understand Why Pharmaceutical Colours are Essential
Here are a few reasons why colours play a crucial role in the manufacture of pharmaceutical products:
- Differentiate between Product
Unique colours and shapes of medicinal products help people differentiate between different medicines. This largely helps in avoiding mix-ups during consumption. If two medicines look almost similar due to having the same colour or shape, there is a chance of consuming the wrong medication. As per FDA statistics, medication errors cause around 7000 deaths each year. In a story by the Washington Post, it was estimated that at least 1.5 million Americans are sickened, injured, or killed each year due to taking the wrong medication. It is, therefore, essential to be able to have clear distinctions in the way medicines look.
- Stops Counterfeiting
A major problem faced by the pharma industry is the issue of counterfeit products. While top-tier companies try to manufacture genuine and high-quality products that will help consumers, cheap counterfeit products can cause unimaginable harm. Distinct colours, shapes, and sizes that can avoid counterfeiting to some extent eliminate such risk.
- Avoid overdose
Two medicines that are of different strengths yet look the same can cause confusion. In such cases, the risk of overdosage is high. This is why it is of grave importance to make two similar medicines of different dosages look different by using a different colour.
- Consumer Requirements
One must not forget that Pharmaceutical products have a market and a consumer base. Also, some studies show consumers form an emotional link with colour. Specific colours help consumers identify with certain colours, as every colour has a specific meaning. It is especially true for pharmaceutical products made for children. They also help with flavor perception, brand identification, and quality perception.
- Commercial Standpoint
Pharmaceutical colours are also vital for a manufacturer from a commercial standpoint. Specific high-quality colours can help in creating a brand image. These are also useful in advertising various products. Colours that are used by specific brands differentiate one brand from another. It can also help consumers identify with the specific brand.
Pharmaceutical colours are, therefore, beneficial for both the consumers as well as the manufacturers. They increase the safety of a drug and eliminate the risk of counterfeiting. They can appear comforting to patients, especially children and the elderly. They can further help build a brand identity.
Pharmaceutical companies use a variety of water-soluble and water-insoluble colours for different products. The most common type of pigments used in the pharma industry includes titanium and iron dioxide, Aluminium Lake Colours, and Natural colour.
Manufacturers go through a scrupulous process of choosing the right & safe pigments for specific pharmaceutical colours. They employ techniques of colour psychology to choose the right colour for particular products. Colours can be a determinant of consumer behavior as well. They can influence perceptions like taste and emotions.
Colours can promote clarity and familiarity. It is important that the colours used are safe and comply with the quality standards of regulatory authorities. The quality of the colours used is also essential as they will be consumed by people of all ages and with different medical issues. As we have seen, colours play an important role in the pharmaceutical industry for varied reasons. Top brands, therefore, ensure that they only use colours that are safe and of the best quality. Strict quality control methods are employed during the manufacturing process to ensure that there is no batch-to-batch colour variation.
So next time you see a distinctly coloured ointment or a capsule, know that the colour has a purpose and the manufacturer went through a rigorous process to choose the colour for that specific product.