Why is my medicine Red?

Why is my medicine Red?

I don't know if you noticed, but the medicines you consume come in all kinds of colors.

Red, blue, or even green. Have you ever pondered why your medicines come in different colours and whether you have a choice?

If you have, then dig in. 

Colouring agents in medicines serve both functional and aesthetic purposes, helping to differentiate products, aid in identification, and enhance consumer appeal.

Natural or synthetic sources can yield these agents, each possessing unique properties and applications. For example, plants, animals, or mineral sources provide natural colouring agents. Common natural colourants include beetroot red (betanin), turmeric (curcumin), and saffron (crocin).

These are generally considered safer and more acceptable to health-conscious consumers and those with allergies to synthetic dyes.

Synthetic coloring agents, on the other hand, are man-made and often provide a more vibrant and consistent color. Examples include Tartrazine (Yellow No. 5), Allura Red AC (Red No. 40), and Brilliant blue FCF (Blue No. 1).

But why do we use them in the first place?

First, they help in the identification and differentiation of medications. Colouring agents make it easier for patients and healthcare providers to distinguish between different medications, dosages, and brands.

Secondly, attractive colours can improve patient compliance, particularly among children, by making medications more visually appealing. Lastly, unique colours can serve as a branding tool, helping products stand out in the market.

While colouring agents are generally considered safe when used within regulatory limits, there are potential risks, particularly with synthetic dyes.

Some individuals may experience allergic reactions, ranging from mild skin irritations to severe anaphylaxis.

There are also concerns about synthetic dyes exacerbating conditions in children, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

It is not like you do not have an option. You can always make the medicine colourless. It is feasible to use all natural colours.

Pills and tablets can also be marked with unique shapes, logos, or imprints instead of colors. Clear and detailed labelling, along with distinctive packaging, can also reduce reliance on colour differentiation. 

For all this to happen, you, the consumer, have to start asking your pharmaceutical company why they are using colour in their medicine. 

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