Pill Identifiers: Good Information That You'll Really Want To Have Now

pill identifiers

How do you identify an unknown pill? Have you ever worried about a medication mix-up? Not sure about the leftover prescriptions in your medicine cabinet? If you've ever had questions about your pills, you may have used a pill identification app or web tool. Many pill identifiers are available for consumer use. A pill identifier can be a helpful tool for patients and caregivers. Online pill identifiers work by matching the imprint code, size, shape, or color of a pill. 


Important Information About Online Pill Identifiers

The providers of pill identifiers strive to provide accurate, up-to-date, and complete information. It's important to note that these providers don't guarantee the data they provide.

When using a pill identification tool, it's essential to:

  • Read the disclaimer statement.
  • Reread the disclaimer statement from time to time to see if anything has changed that may affect you.
  • Not use the information from a pill identification tool as a substitute for professional advice.
  • Contact your pharmacist or doctor's office if you have any concerns or questions.

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) is the top medical library in the world. NLM once provided a pill identification tool called Pillbox. As of January 29, 2021, Pillbox was retired.

Important to know:

  1. No other online pill identifier offers the functions and features of Pillbox.
  2. The NLM has no replacement for Pillbox.
  3. The NLM endorses no online pill identifiers. 


The NLM provides recommendations for:

  • Where to go for information about your pills.
  • Where to get help identifying pills. 


Where To Go for Information About Your Pills

For drug information, the NLM recommends NLM's databases[1]:

  • MedlinePlus Drugs, Herbs, and Supplements
  • DailyMed 


MedlinePlus and DailyMed aren't tools for pill identification. For information on how to get help identifying pills, skip to Where to Go for Pill Identification.

MedlinePlus

MedlinePlus Drugs, Herbs, and Supplements is a source of consumer-focused drug information from the NLM. Use MedlinePlus Drugs, Herbs, and Supplements to learn not only about your prescription drugs, herbs, and supplements but also over-the-counter medicines.

Searching MedlinePlus

Use the search box or browse an alphabetical list of generic and brand name medications. You'll find information about side effects, dosage, special precautions, and more.

DailyMed

DailyMed is the place to go to retrieve the label information for your pills. This public database provides Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drug package labels. Search this database for the official, up-to-date FDA drug label (package insert) for all marketed drugs in the United States. 



 FDA-approved patient labeling (e.g., Patient Information, Medication Guide, Instructions for Use) is directed to the patient, family, or caregiver. FDA-approved carton and container labeling communicate information critical to the safe use of prescription drugs and biological products from the initial prescription, to procurement, to preparation and dispensing of the drug to the time the person receives it. 


Labeling for non-prescription drugs is called Drug Facts. Drug Facts includes the following information about the drug:

  • Purpose
  • Warnings
  • Directions for use
  • Other information 


The labeling on DailyMed is the most recently submitted label to the FDA by companies and currently in use (i.e., "in use" labeling).

Searching DailyMed

You can search DailyMed several ways, including by:

  • Drug name
  • Manufacturer name
  • Drug class
  • NDC code - a unique 10-digit, 3-segment number on the outside package. 


NDC Code screenshot

Use Advanced Search, if needed, to refine your search results. When you find a drug, you'll view an image of the same package you'd see at the store.

You will also find a menu with links to additional information for:

  • Safety
  • More Info for This Drug
  • Related Resources


Where To Go for Pill Identification

For identifying pills sold in the United States, NLM's Knowledge Base suggests three resources to help you[2]:

  1. Drugs.com Pill Identifier can help you match the imprint, size, shape, or color of a pill. If you need more information, it can take you to a detailed description in a drug database. This database is derived from Micromedex, Cerner Multum, Wolters Kluwer, and others. 

  2. FDA Center for Drug Evaluation & Research (CDER) Division of Drug Information (DDI) staff can identify drugs for you based on physical appearance (color, shape, size, etc.) and markings. Email DDI your drug description at druginfo@.fda.hhs.gov. 

  3. Poison Control Center (PCC) staff provide free, confidential pill identification 24/7 year-round. The PCC phone number is 1-800-222-1222. In case of an emergency, call 911. 


NLM states they're not responsible for the content or availability of external sites. They don't endorse, warrant, or guarantee products, services, or information described or offered at other Internet sites. 


Sources:

  1. https://support.nlm.nih.gov/knowledgebase/article/KA-04527/en-us
  2. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/techbull/ja20/ja20_pillbox_discontinue.html

The information and other content provided in this post, or any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical or health advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. If you or any other person have a medical or health concern, you should consult with your health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment. Never disregard professional medical or health advice or delay seeking it because of anything in this blog or any linked materials. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or emergency services immediately. Any opinions and views expressed on this blog and website have no relation to any academic, hospital, health practice, or other institution.