USP Survey on Tablet/Capsule Identification
Summary of Results
USP conducted the Tablet/Capsule Identification Survey online from April–June 2004. The survey was submitted to over 13,500 health care professionals representing the following organizations: the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Association of Poison Control Centers, the American Pharmacists Association, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Association of Nurse Executives. Over 1000 (1,021) survey responses were received.
Identification of tablets/capsules is a difficult exercise.
Not finding the tablet or capsule in the references or databases and the absence of any imprint code are what make identification difficult.
The tablets/capsules that cannot be identified are mostly dietary/nutritional supplements.
The use of other sources as references greatly increases the success rate in identifying tablets/capsules. Online references appear to be more adequate than print resources.
There is dissatisfaction with the current identification systems. With regard to alternative systems, there is no clear preference between the database approach and the standardized imprint code approach.
Respondents' involvement with identificationNearly three-fourths (70%) of the survey respondents indicated that they receive at least one identification request per month. Nearly one-quarter (23%) of the respondents indicated that they receive 2 to 3 or more requests per week.
Nearly two-thirds of the respondents categorized identification as either "sometimes difficult" to "often difficult". On an average, respondents spent 9 minutes on each identification exercise.
Factors contributing to difficulty in identification
The two most common factors contributing to difficulties in identifying tablets and capsules were
Not finding the tablet or capsule in the references or databases (48%)
The absence of any imprint code on the tablet or capsule (46%).
Other frequently cited factors included similar appearance of multiple "look-alikes" (37%), absence of company logo (32%), unreadable imprint code (26%), and company logo hard to describe or identify (22%).
Nearly half (47%) of the tablets and capsules that could not be identified by the survey respondents were dietary/nutritional supplements, while 33% were OTC products, and 19% were tablets or capsules of foreign origin.
Effectiveness of references
Respondents reported higher success rates in identification when they referred to "other sources." The 100% success rate category increased by 674%. Similarly, the 96–99% category increased by 155%, and the 90–95% category increased by 35%.
Thus the benefit of current resources to the identification process was undeniable. Nevertheless, the overall success rate after use of these resources and the time and costs involved in making the identifications are still of concern to many practitioners. The most frequently cited "other sources" referred to were Identidex (46%), Ident-A-Drug (40%) and Physicians' Desk Reference (20%).
On a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high), 34% of the survey respondents rated the adequacy of current printed resources for tablet/capsule identification as 3 (average), while 40% of the respondents rated the printed resources as 4 or 5. On the same scale, 40% of the survey respondents rated the adequacy of the online databases as 3 (average) and 38% of the respondents rated the on-line databases as 4 or 5.
Value of a standardized imprint code system
Majority of the respondents gave a high value to a standardized imprint code system (84% rated it high or above average). 39% of respondents indicated that the database approach seems to offer the most potential for providing rapid, accurate tablet/capsule identification, while 37% preferred the standardized imprint code approach. Only 13% of the respondents chose the current system.