Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I'll Take the Purple Pill, Please

I happened to be in that psuedo-invisible position at my doctor's office: that time when she stands in the doorway talking admin stuff with staff before turning her attentions to me. She said something that really caught my attention. With visible exasperation she said, "If I hear one more color-pill request I'll scream."

I decided to ask what she was talking about. She explained that a patient had just requested 'those yellow pills'. She said that since the drug companies have been marketing to the patient - they used to market to the doctors - she gets color-coded pill requests every week. She attributes it to a pain killer in the 80s advertised as 'Little, Yellow, Different' and 'The Purple Pill' ads. The ads worked, but she says now she hears about green, purple, yellow, red and orange pills that the patient wants her to prescribe. Problem is that they get the colors confused.

I had never thought about the confusion that might occur as patients try to convey what they want using the 'ad lingo' rather than specific drug names.

Next step is the polka-dot pill - stay away from colors all together.