- File Under drug alerts
When too-similar drug names lead to mix-ups
Michelle Brandt on August 17th, 2011
Over at Shots today, Eliza Barclay takes a look at the confusing world of drug names and the confusion caused by drugs with similar names:
There are nearly 800 pairs of drugs like Clindesse and Clindets that look or sound alike, according to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, or ISMP, a patient safety group that compiled a list of them. And the ISMP says all of these similarly named drugs are a big problem, because name mix-ups are responsible for about 25 percent of all medication errors..... Continue Reading...
Drug Alerts From Consumer Med Saftey
Why You Need To Know Your Medicine’s Brand and Generic Names
All medicines have one generic name, and perhaps one or more brand names. For example, Advil and Motrin are brand names for the generic medicine ibuprofen. When you are taking medicine, it is important to know both the generic and the brand names. This information will prevent you from taking too much of the same medicine, which can lead to an overdose.
Sometimes, the brand names are prescribed for entirely different reasons. For example, one medicine is called Prozac when it’s used to treat depression and Sarafem when it’s used to reduce pre-menstrual symptoms. In this case, the drug company felt some women may be uncomfortable taking a medicine called Prozac if it wasn’t being used to treat depression. But Prozac and Sarafem are the same medicine. Its generic name is fluoxetine, which will always be the same no matter what condition the medicine is being used to treat. So a woman taking Prozac for depression should not assume that it’s safe to take Sarafem for pre-menstrual symptoms, too.
Sometimes, having different names for the same medicine has caused mistakes. One middle-aged man accidentally took too much of one ingredient that it sent him to the hospital with a seizure. The ingredient was called bupropion. This medicine has one brand name (Wellbutrin) when it’s used for depression and another (Zyban when it’s used to help people quit smoking. The man had been taking Wellbutrin for years to treat depression. Six weeks before the seizure, his doctor gave him a new set of prescriptions for all his medicines. This time, the doctor prescribed the depression medicine by its generic name, bupropion. Not knowing they were the same medicine, the man mistakenly took both his new prescription for bupropion and his old prescription for Wellbutrin. To make matters worse, the man had recently attended a “stop smoking” program, where another doctor gave him a prescription for Zyban. So right before his seizure, the man was taking Zyban, Wellbutrin, and bupropion — all the same medicine! Luckily, a medical student in the hospital discovered the problem when he looked up the generic names of all the medicines the man was taking. After a day in the hospital, the man was able to go home.
The best way to prevent these errors is to know your medicine’s brand and generic names. Remember, the generic name will always be the same, even if your medicine has several different brand names. Keep a record of all the medicines you take. On a form, list the names of your medicine, why you take them, how much you take, and how often you take them. Give that form to your doctors every time you visit them. Also, while you may need to visit several different doctors, always try to fill your prescriptions at the same pharmacy. This way, your pharmacist will be able to tell if one of your doctors prescribed a medicine you’re already taking.
Other Alerts in 2011
Pill Description on Pharmacy Label Adds Measure of Safety
An FDA Consumer Alert: Safe Use of Acetaminophen in Children
Over-the-counter benzocaine sprays and gels used to relieve mouth pain can cause a fatal blood disor
Insulin pumps affected by heated waterbeds
Angeliq drug samples mistakenly provided as birth control pills
Growing Drug Shortages Now Being Felt Outside The Hospitals
Important safety information regarding Pradaxa (dabigatran)
Drugs given once a week may be prone to deadly dosage errors
Parents of hospitalized children can be involved in safety issues in both good and bad ways
Advice from FDA: Possible Increased Risk of Bone Fractures With Certain Antacid Drugs
Confusion with Catapress-TTS Patches
Keep camphor away from children
Beware! Imposter FDA agents targeting people who use online pharmacies