Question: I recently bought some Benicar pills from an international online pharmacy who sourced them from a place in Turkey. The pills did not match up with pills I had on hand from a domestic pharmacy. I don’t know if we should use these blood pressure pills as it seems a little strange that both sourced bills shouldn’t have the same markings.
For generic drugs, the simple answer is, they look different because they have to. Generic medications must be comparable to a brand name medication in dosage form, strength, route of administration, and intended use. However, whether dispensed domestically or internationally, generic medications often have a different shape, color, or size due to intellectual property (patent and trademark) protections on the brand-name medication. Manufacturers of brand-named medications have certain exclusive rights, such as the unique look of a medication, which may include color, shape or markings.
But what about a brand named medication manufactured in other countries?
The same may also be true for a brand name medication manufactured in other countries, such as Canada, United Kingdom, etc. The appearance of a prescription medication, or the packaging it comes in, can be different internationally compared to the United States. In some instances, the same medication, made by the same manufacturer, can indeed look different depending on the country it is approved and marketed in. In fact, it’s not uncommon when the names of brand name medications differ by country, often for licensing and marketing reasons. For example, GlaxoSmithKline markets the popular asthma drug Fluticasone Propionate/Salmeterol Xinafoate as Advair Diskus in the U.S. and Seretide Accuhaler in the United Kingdom.
The most important thing of course is to make sure you’re getting a real medication! The online pharmacies vetted in the PharmacyChecker Verification Program sell lawfully manufactured, genuine medications – but the same ones sometimes look different from the ones purchased at your local pharmacy.