Confusing imprint codes


CVS brand of Arthritis Pain Relief extended-release tablets come in geltabs containing 650 mg of acetaminophen. A single dose is typically 650 mg, or one geltab. Several people who live in a retirement community reported that they found the markings on the geltabs that state “350” to be confusing (image below). Several thought the “350” designation on the tablet meant its strength—350 mg. They thought they had to take two of the geltabs as a single dose, but again were confused because two of the geltabs would equal 700 mg, not the 650 mg dose they thought they were supposed to take.


The markings on tablets are called imprint codes. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires all oral pills, cvs pillstablets, geltabs, or capsules to have a unique imprint code so it can be used for identification once the medicine is out of its package. The codes can be a single letter or number, any combination of letters and numbers, including words, company names, a mark, a symbol, a logo, or other unique mark.

Here’s what you can do: When the imprint code on a tablet, pill, geltab, or capsule is a number, don’t confuse this with the strength. Always read the label to determine the strength of a medicine.

Created on April 1, 2016

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