Here's What Those Letters And Numbers On Your Pills Mean

Whether you're someone who has to take a pill on a daily basis, such as for your blood pressure, or just once in a while, like when you're sick, you may have noticed the letters and numbers indented on one or both sides of the capsule. They're known as the imprint code, according to the experts at WebMD. If you haven't picked up on any sort of code when you look at them, that's okay too. It can depend on the type of pill you're consuming.

However, the code indented on the side of most tablets is required by the FDA and can be seen on both over-the-counter pills and those prescribed by a doctor. That being said, next time you're about to consume any type of solid capsule, pause and take a closer look at the jumble of numbers and letters found on it. After all, the imprint code is done for a reason.

The meaning of the imprinted code

As for the code itself, it does vary because it depends on the type of medication that is being consumed. However, for the most part, it can include any combination of letters or numbers, a single letter or number, or the name of the company that handles the manufacturing of the tablet, as per But regardless of what the code is made up of, the meaning of the indentation is simply to be able to distinguish the pill from other capsules. The color, size, and coding help professionals, like doctors and even police, identify what medication is being consumed in the event the tablet is not near the bottle it was given in.

That being said, it can also help people who take more than one daily pill per day, especially if you're someone who likes to stash all daily capsules in a single pill container. As helpful as the indented coding is, there are some circumstances where you'll find no combination of numbers or letters on a pill.

Pills with no imprinted coding

While most pill medications you come across will have that imprinted code, some don't, explains World Pharma Today. However, don't be alarmed just yet. This might mean the surface of the capsule isn't solid enough to be engraved. Those who take daily vitamins may have noticed this, seeing as vitamins typically feel a bit soft when slight pressure is applied to them. 

On the other hand, aside from vitamins, if you come across a tablet without any coding, it could indicate the pill was not approved by the FDA. Therefore, that could mean it's an illegal or foreign substance, such as ecstasy, which could lead to unknown side effects. That being said, if you're unsure of the state of your pill, do not consume it, as there is no way to safely identify what you'd be consuming. It's always best to hold off and ask your primary physician or pharmacist.