Special Sub-Topic: Drugs, Colorful Drugs
|What color do bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol), calamine lotion, and diphenhydramine (Benadryl) all have in common?|
Pink. Just like that cartoon panther.
|Many pharmaceuticals are sensitive to light, and lose their potency with prolonged exposure. For this reason, many drug packages and containers are designed to be light-resistant. What is the name of the traditional shade for plastic and glass prescription bottles / vials?|
Amber. The classic amber varies from a light yellow-orange to a dark brown. One drug packaging supplier markets a light-resistant plastic product called "Nultraviolet" - it comes in green or orange.
|Of course, the most common color found in the pharmacy (for tablets, powders, creams, etc.) is a very boring shade of what?|
White. Most drugs are naturally colorless, and manufacturers apparently feel it's more economical to leave them this way. Also, white probably doesn't appeal as much as bright colors do to youngsters on the lookout for candy.
|Senna (usually brown) and docusate (often bright red) are both laxatives. Sometimes they are combined into one tablet. What color do you suppose this combination tablet is? (Just choose the color that you believe would result from combining red with brown.)|
Orange. Docusate is a stool softener, while senna (sennosides), derived from a plant, falls into the stimulant class of laxatives. I have spent many a long, weary hour in the pharmacy drawing sticky blackish-brown liquid senna from bulk bottles into 5 cc oral syringes. Its smell is distinctive - leafy, organic, syrupy - but not at all unpleasant.
|This common drug frequently appears in chewable tablet form. Its various colors - green, red, orange, and yellow - represent an array of fruit flavors. Can you name its therapeutic class?|
Calcium-based antacids. To have brightly colored, fruit flavored chewable tablets in any of the other classes given as choices would probably be pretty ridiculous.
Manufacturers may also wish to present tablets in a spectrum of colors to distinguish between strengths when many strengths are available - two examples of this are levothyroxine and warfarin (Coumadin).
|Fill in the blank to complete the name of a well-known injectable drug: methylene __________.|
blue. Yes, it really does look blue. Methylene blue has numerous uses in health care, but pharmacy people will occasionally feed "methylene brownies" to the naive - I'll let you figure out what happens after "nature takes its course." (Actually, the results are supposedly more green than blue, but I apologize, I've said too much already...)
|Which of these antibiotic agents is easily identified by its deep, blood-red color?|
Rifampin. "Rifampin in cherry syrup" is something my pharmacy compounds from time to time - and yes, opening the capsules and pouring out the red powder can be very messy if you're not careful. Rifampin is a disturbing shade of red in its intravenous form as well.
|Addition of 'B' vitamins to a clear solution for intravenous injection usually turns the solution what color?|
Yellow. Liquid vitamins are not only yellow, but they stink to high heaven as well. Some pharmacies call intravenous vitamin preparations "banana bags" - imagine a one-liter I.V. bag full of clear, bright yellow liquid. I.V. diazepam (Valium) is another yellow drug - a very pale, clear yellow, to be precise.
|The drug known as "China White" is legal in the United States.|
f. Yes, it's a white powder, and no, it isn't legal. Sometimes applied to supposedly very pure heroin, the term China White more accurately refers to alpha-methylfentanyl, a potent opioid narcotic. The fentanyl family is quite large, and includes a significant number of analogs. While certain analogs such as alfentanyl, sufentanyl, and remifentanyl are legal (but carefully controlled by the Drug Enforcement Administration), others like alpha-methylfentanyl and 3-methylfentanyl (so-called "designer drugs") currently have no accepted medical use in the U.S. and are illegal.
|Fill in the blank to complete the name of a dye sometimes used as a topical antiseptic: Brilliant ___________.|
green. It supposedly prevents the growth of gram-positive bacteria. This stuff is also used as a fabric dye. Brilliant. Just brilliant.
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