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Color-coded pills often don't work for the colorblind

August 28, 2009 |  8:02 am

About 8% of men and 0.4% of women are colorblind, many of them having problems distinguishing red and green. That can be a problem for users of asthma inhalers and warfarin, among other drugs, that use different colored pills and containers to distinguish different formulations. A recent survey of 100 colorblind people found that 2% of them had mixed up their medications because of color recognition problems, researchers from the University of Melbourne reported online today in the journal Lancet.


One potential solution, the researchers said, is to use more yellow, blue and gray, which the colorblind can distinguish.

-- Thomas H. Maugh II

Photos, from top: Warfarin tablets and containers in their normal colors (A) and as seen by the colorblind (B); asthma inhalers in their normal colors (C) and as seen by individuals with a loss of red vision (D). Credit: The Lancet