Ever find a random pill on the floor, or forget which of the two little yellow pills you’re supposed to take with lunch?
I discovered a new pill identification web site called Pillbox by complete accident, and it has been a lifesaver. It is a legitimate site, too. It’s run by the federal government via the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and they have several ways you can identify a pill. Check it out here
I put together my daily medications in a little pillbox every morning. Sometimes I drop one on the floor, and I don’t always recognize it. Taking the wrong pill can be dangerous and vacuuming or throwing out one can be expensive. Here’s what the Pillbox search page looks like:
Something that I personally was drawn to immediately was the ability to determine manufacturer and any inactive ingredients. Anyone with allergies knows all about the importance of inactive ingredients – stuff drug makers add to medications to deliver a certain texture, color, or method of absorption. I have Celiac Disease, so I have to be careful as some manufacturers will use wheat starch as a binding agent. It doesn’t happen as much now; it’s usually corn starch these days. However, once in a blue moon it will come up.
I have a pill in my hand, so let’s try to identify it together. (Seemingly Stupid Disclosure, but a Disclosure Nonetheless: Never take a pill if you aren’t sure what it is.)
The first thing I do is look at the pill for anything specific about it that I can input into the search box. There’s the number 3 on this one, so I enter that on the Imprint line.
Then I tell Pillbox its color is white, it’s of round shape, and I’m not sure if it’s scored (scored means a line that indicates it can be halved).
I hit submit, and I get my pill identification results!
A longer list appears with various manufacturers, but the pill I was looking for happens to be #2 on the list so that’s where the graphic is cropped. It is a Tylenol #3! As you can see in the photo, my pill actually has a score on it, as well as the number 2064 and letter V on the flip side. I didn’t provide Pillbox with all those details to show you don’t need to have exactly the right details in order to get an accurate result.
You will notice that I clicked ‘Show More Information’ to expand the result and show ingredients. Indeed, my pill contains corn and potato starch – both are safe for me to ingest.
So NIH’s Pillbox website is handy, intuitive, and perhaps most importantly, it is trustworthy. There are other pill identification sites out there, but most are either informed by user input or clouted with sponsors, making it really difficult to get the crucial information you’re seeking. Pillbox notes, however, that in an emergency – such as your child ingesting medication or a suspected overdose – you should call 911 or your local poison control hotline. This website is meant for researching pills in a non-emergency setting.