NAPLEX Question of the Week: Descriptions, Colors, Mnemonics

This week's question is a common patient question: pill identification.
NAPLEX Question of the Week: Descriptions, Colors, Mnemonics

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A 56-year-old male presents with a past medical history significant for hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and has a mechanical mitral heart valve. He walks up to the pharmacy to refill his warfarin, but there are multiple strengths on his profile, and he doesn’t remember what number is on it. He does remember that the tablet he takes every day is blue. Which of the following strengths comes in a blue tablet?

A. 2 mg

B. 3 mg

C. 4 mg

D. 6 mg


Answer with rationale:

The correct answer is C. 

Warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven) comes in many tablet strengths, but they all have a standardized color based on their strength: 

1 mg = Pink

2 mg = Lavender

2.5 mg = Light green

3 mg = Tan/Brown

4 mg = Blue

5 mg = Peach

6 mg = Teal

7.5 mg = Yellow

10 mg = White

One popular mnemonic to remember this is “Please Let Granny Brown Bring Peaches To Your Wedding”. The 10 mg dose of warfarin (white) is also dye-free, and therefore would be safe in patients with any dye allergies (can cut in half for 5 mg or fourths for 2.5 mg strengths).

Another important drug with colors to remember is levothyroxine (Synthroid, Levoxyl):

25 mcg = Orange

50 mcg = White

75 mcg = Violet

88 mcg = Olive

100 mcg = Yellow

112 mcg = Rose

125 mcg = Brown

137 mcg = Turquoise

150 mcg = Blue

175 mcg = Lilac

200 mcg = Pink

300 mcg = Green

A popular mnemonic for this one is “Only White Violets Or Yellow Roses Bring Teachers Back Looking Pretty Glad,” whichever works best for you. Once more, the 50 mcg white tablet is dye-free.

And finally, the Ellipta devices are different colors based on which drugs are within them:

Anoro Ellipta (umeclidinium + vilanterol) = Red

Arnuity Ellipta (fluticasone) = Orange 

Breo Ellipta (fluticasone + vilanterol) = Blue

Incruse Ellipta (umeclidinium) = Light green

Trelegy Ellipta (fluticasone + umeclidinium + vilanterol) = Tan

No mnemonics here, but feel free to make your own.

Relevant NAPLEX Competencies:

2.2 – Commercial availability; prescription or non-prescription status; brand, generic, or biosimilar names; physical descriptions; or how supplied.

See everyone next week as we head into March!

Dr. B

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