Because people take so many different pills these days, many phone applications have been created to identify pills in an effort to help people avoid overdosing or a medication error. If you are a CVS pharmacy patient, you may have heard about the CVS smartphone app that is used to identify pills. While CVS does have a smartphone app, there are many other apps out there that are used to identify pills. Consumer Reports put them to the test.
Benefits and Flaws of Pill Identifier Applications
Consumer Reports tested seven pill identifier apps and liked only two of them: Drugs.com Pill Identifier and Epocrates Pill ID. Unfortunately, CVS Pharmacy Pill Identifier, Pill Finder, ID My Pill, iPharmacy Pill Identifier, and Prescription Pill Identifier didn’t do as well. Each app reviewed the same over-the-counter and prescription drugs, including:
- Advil (ibuprofen)
- Bayer (aspirin)
- Generic acetaminophen
- Generic naproxen
- Generic prednisone
While one app searched for pills based on photos, most of the apps search to identify a medication by each drug’s imprint, shape, and color that users will need to select from the drop-down menu. The problem? The CVS Pharmacy Pill Identifier requires patients to choose between pill shape categories such as clover, bullet, gear, and trapezoid—requiring some confusion and guesswork.
While none of the pill identifier apps were flawless, Consumer Reports did find both the Drugs.com and Epocrates apps to be easier to use and glitch-free, and they contained more accurate drug information, dosing instructions, drug interactions, and side-effect information. While CVS’s app was found easy to use and pretty accurate, Consumer Reports indicates there were low-quality images, pop-up ads, and had slow and sometimes incorrect results.
Verifying Drug Appearance to Limit Identification Errors
No matter which pill app you use to check your medication, it is always best to ask your pharmacist if your pills have changed in appearance. In fact, every time you fill a prescription, you should have a pharmacist review your pills with you before you leave the pharmacy so that you can reduce your chances of a medication error. Also, you can help others stay safe and avoid pharmacy mistakes by sharing this blog on Facebook.