How to Identify Drug Pills, Tablets or Capsules

photo of pills, tablets and capsules
Double check the identification of your drugs as one way to stay safe. Getty-PeterDazeley.jpg

Maybe you found a pill on the floor and you aren't sure what it is. Or you've just picked up your new prescription at the pharmacist and you want to confirm it's the right drug. There are some simple ways to identify pills, tablets, and capsules.

Unless the drug is a good counterfeit, it's a very straightforward process to make the identification. By law, every pill, tablet or capsule approved by the FDA must be unique-looking, specifically to make identification easy.

Here's How:

A pill's design is a combination of:

  • The shape
  • The pattern (two-toned, banded, speckled or others)
  • The color(s)

Identifiers or imprints include numbers, names and letters, and sometimes a logo.

To identify the pill, use this tool:

Start by inputting just the identifying imprint, because you may need no more than that.

RxList Pill Identifier

Tips

  1. If the identifier doesn't give you an answer, try again including the physical description, too.

  2. Having trouble making the identification? It may not be an FDA approved drug. It could be an illegal drug, a counterfeit, or even an alternative remedy.

  3. Still can't identify the pill? You may want to take it to your pharmacist to ask his or her help. If you don't want to ask for help, then throw it away. Don't risk taking a drug when you don't know what it is or how it could possibly harm you.

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