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The coloration of pills and tablets is an effective way to avoid medication errors and to enhance safety in the use of medicinesStage Image

The coloration of pills and tablets is an effective way to avoid medication errors and to enhance safety in the use of medicines

© Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

Candurin® in pharmaceuticals

The right medicine

2016/7/13

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Whether a patient is chronically ill or in acute distress, only the right medicine in the right dosage will make a successful therapy possible. Patients who need to take several different kinds of tablets can easily lose track. A pigment range from Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, should help to prevent dangerous mix-ups in the future. A further advantage of these pigments is that they make it more difficult to create counterfeit copies of medicines.

Take one big white tablet three times a day, plus two of the small white tablets. Take a light-blue capsule in the morning and the evening, and swallow a pink caplet after breakfast. Heinz Gerberow’s drug regimen had remained the same for years. He had rheumatism and osteoarthritis, as well as adult-onset diabetes and high blood pressure. This is not unusual for a 79-year-old, and if the patient has a certain amount of discipline, all of these conditions respond well to therapy.

“The likelihood of patients getting medicines mixed up is significantly reduced by the unique pearlescent appearance of Candurin® pigments.“

Almut von der Brelie
Marketing Manager

In medical terms, “compliance” refers to a patient’s adherence to a treatment plan. If patients comply with the doctor’s orders, a treatment will be promising and successful. But in Heinz Gerberow’s case, the shape of one of his tablets was changed and another one of his medicines was replaced by a cheaper product that had a different name. The results were dramatic: Gerberow’s blood pressure shot up and his mobility declined drastically. In the hospital, the problem was quickly identified and the patient became accustomed to his new drug regimen.

Increasing the number of drugs lowers compliance


“Having to take several medicines, which is known as polypharmacy, is always a problem if the patient also has certain age-related limitations,” says Valentin Goede, a Senior Physician at the Department of Geriatric Medicine at St. Marien Hospital in Cologne, Germany. “Many elderly people have impaired vision. They may also have coordination problems when handling packaging, and in many cases they also have cognitive impairment.” In such cases, the safe intake of medicine can no longer be guaranteed. “If all the tablets have the same color and shape, it gets very difficult for older people,” Goede explains.
  • Almut von der Brelie is the marketing manager for Candurin®
  • Almut von der Brelie is the marketing manager for Candurin®
    © Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

    Nowadays, compliance is being jeopardized in many ways. Studies by the Association of German Hospital Pharmacists (ADKA) have revealed that major problems are being caused by look-alikes (packages or tablets with a similar appearance) and sound-alikes (drug names that sound similar and can result in doctors prescribing, or pharmacies delivering, the wrong medicine). ADKA has set up a dedicated database for the documentation of mixups.

    Candurin® makes drugs unmistakable


    Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, is also aware of these problems. In response, it launched the Candurin® pearl effect colors. These products make drugs safer in a variety of ways. “The likelihood of patients getting medicines mixed up is significantly reduced by the unique pearlescent appearance of Candurin® pigments,” explains Almut von der Brelie, Candurin® Marketing Manager at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. “The pigments make it easier to recognize specific drugs, and that’s a huge benefit for elderly patients in particular.”
  • Protection from product piracy: The use of the unique Candurin® pearl luster pigments makes it more difficult to produce counterfeit medicinesEnlarge
  • Protection from product piracy: The use of the unique Candurin® pearl luster pigments makes it more difficult to produce counterfeit medicines
    © Getty Images

    The mineral-based, non-artificial pigments that are used to coat the tablets fulfill international quality and safety standards of the pharmaceutical and food industry. The pigments are based on a natural silicate or silica in combination with titanium oxide and/or iron oxide. The spectrum ranges from silver, gold, and interference colors to and vibrant red.

    The danger of confusing different drugs is minimized by these attractive and easily recognizable colors. And Candurin® also offers another huge advantage. “Patients like these tablets and capsules, because they look attractive. That increases compliance,” says von der Brelie. “And a study has confirmed that patients attribute greater efficacy to tablets that are coated with Candurin®.”

    Counterfeiters beware


    Candurin® pigments also have great advantages when it comes to another safety issue: product piracy. “As one component of a safety concept, Candurin® is an outstanding way to make product piracy more difficult,” says Almut von der Brelie. “For example, it’s a good supplement for the invisible safety features of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, which are part of the packaging and can only be detected by special equipment. These safety features dramatically increase the drugs’ imperviousness to product piracy.” It’s a mistake to believe that product piracy only affects less-developed countries where people have recourse to cheap imitation drugs because of their lower cost. In fact, researchers estimate that up to a million people die annually worldwide after using counterfeit drugs.

    2016/7/13

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    According to the World Health Organization (WHO), at least 10% of all medicines around the world are counterfeit. In regions such as Africa and Latin America, that figure can be as high as 30%; in affluent countries it is still 1%. “These figures are shocking, even in developed countries,” says Almut von der Brelie. “Patients with chronic illnesses want to be sure that they are receiving the right active ingredient in the right medicine. A counterfeit product cannot have the desired effect, even if it is taken correctly.”
     
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