Frequently Asked Questions
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Why doesn't every pill in Pillbox have an image?
One of the goals of Pillbox is to create a library of pill images anyone can use. In addition to the Pillbox website, these images will enable software developers, health organizations, researchers, and others to create innovative drug information resources.
How many images are in Pillbox?
As of March 2014 Pillbox contains 5,364 pill images. These images cover about half of the prescription medications available in the United States.
Why do some images have a different background?
Pillbox contains pills photographed by both the National Library of Medicine and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Why does the color I select sometimes not match the pills that are displayed?
Each pharmaceutical company assigns a color to their pills, choosing from the list provided by the Food and Drug Administration. This is a subjective decision and can create inconsistent results when viewing large numbers of pills. If you don't find the pill you're looking for when you search with a color such as red, try searching for similar colors, such as yellow, orange, or brown. We're working on ways to make color search more reliable.
How do I search for a pill with multiple colors?
Pillbox only allows searching by one color at a time. During Pillbox's development we found that searching with multiple colors didn't make identifying an unknown pill easier. This is because of many of the same reasons as in the previous question about colors not matching. Many pills have more than one color. When appropriate, NLM modifies the color information provided by the drug labeling company to help you more easily identify that pill.
Are the imprint, shape, color, size, and score values in Pillbox 100% accurate?
For records where there is an image, the National Library of Medicine checks the pill's physical characteristics information and make corrections when appropriate. However errors are still present in the drug labeling data. The NLM is working with the Food and Drug Administration and manufacturers to identify errors and correct them. If you see a value that appears to be incorrect, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is score?
Score is the number of pieces a pill could be broken into, if it were split using the score lines present on the pill. For example, a round pill with a single score line would be broken into two pieces; therefore it has a score value of 2. A square with two score lines in a cross pattern would be broken into four pieces; therefore it has a score value of 4. A pill with no score lines has a value of 1. Try searching with different score values in Pillbox to see examples.
Where can I learn more about the specifications for the FDA's Structured Product Labeling (SPL) criteria?
The Food and Drug Administration provides guidance to drug labeling companies about how to label the physical characteristics of pills.
Structured Product Labeling Resources