Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Drug-name confusion can be deadly

Similar drug names leading to confusion is a long standing pet peeve of mine. Unfortunately, another bad example recently hit the Canadian market. Trosec (trospium chloride) is a newly approved antispasmodic medication. It sounds eerily similar to the hugely popular Losec (omeprazole), which is a proton pump inhibitor. Both products are typically dosed at 20mg once daily. Why didn't the pharmaceutical manufacturer call this product Sanctura, which is the brand name used in the United States?

From the Saskatoon Star Phoenix:
As Bill Emrich left a Red Deer, Alta., hospital in 2004, emergency room staff thought they had given him a dose of morphine to deaden the pain of a riding accident.

In fact, a nurse had mistakenly administered hydromorphone, a similarly named narcotic that is seven times more potent. Less than an hour later, the 69-year-old was back in emergency, this time with doctors furiously trying to revive his stalled heart. "All resuscitation attempts failed," a report on the case said later, "and the patient expired." It was a dramatic example of a problem that has become almost routine in health care: the mixing up of drug names that sound or look alike, sometimes with deadly results. ...more

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