Do you prefer pink tablet as it tastes sweeter than orange pills? Does color of a tablet have any effect or influence on the patients choice? Patients may trust their doctor or pharmacist, but this does not mean they will take the bitterest pill.

According to a recent research, the color, shape, taste and even name of a pill or tablet have an effect on how patients fell about their medication. Choose an appropriate combination and the placebo effect gives the pill a boost, improves outcomes and might even reduce side effects.

In a new study, researchers at the University of Bombay, New Mumbai, India, have surveyed users of over-the-counter (OTC) medication to find out just how much the color of a tablet influences patient choice.

Researcher R.K. Srivastava and colleagues of the University of Bombay reported that red and pink tablets are preferred over other colors. Their survey of 600 people showed that for three quarters of people the color and shape of their tablets act as a memory tag for compliance.

Strangely, the researchers found that 14 percent of people think of pink tablets as tasting sweeter than red tablets, whereas a yellow tablet is perceived as salty irrespective of its actual ingredients.

The researchers said 11 percent thought of white or blue tablets as tasting bitter and 10 percent assumed orange-colored tablets were sour. Twice as many middle-aged people preferred red tablets as younger adults and more women chose red tablets as were chosen by men. Color seems to be integral component of an OTC product, the team says.

Patients undergo a sensory experience every time they self-administer a drug, whether it's swallowing a tablet or capsule, chewing a tablet, swallowing a liquid, or applying a cream or ointment. The ritual involving perceptions can powerfully affect a patient's view of treatment effectiveness, the researchers said.

The researchers suggest that it might be possible to ensure that all the sensory elements of given medication work together to create positive perceptions that complement the medical attributes. However, they point out that surprisingly little attention has been paid to this aspect of pharmaceutical formulation.

The research has implications for marketing OTC medication to different age groups and to men and women. However, given that compliance in taking medication strongly depends on the patient's perception of that medication the study could also have important connotations for improving effects.

If patients are disinclined to take a tablet they consider bitter or sour or because they simply do not like the color, then a change of aesthetics might be needed. The same research might apply equally to prescription medicines, the researchers said.