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U.S. Pharmacopeia 8th Annual MEDMARX(R) Report Indicates Look-Alike/Sound-Alike Drugs Lead to Thousands of Medication Errors Nationwide
Date:1/29/2008

Each of the top 10 most prescribed drugs in America commonly confused with

at least one other drug

ROCKVILLE, Md., Jan. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- The 8th annual national MEDMARX(R) Data Report released today by the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) revealed that more than 1,400 commonly used drugs are involved in errors linked to drug names that look alike or sound alike. According to findings in the MEDMARX report, 1.4% of the errors resulted in patient harm, including seven errors that may have caused or contributed to patient deaths. However, due to widespread underreporting of incidents, the study's authors believe that the number of adverse events resulting from look-alike/sound-alike errors is actually understated.

For this year's report, USP reviewed more than 26,000 records submitted to the MEDMARX database from 2003 to 2006. These records revealed that 1,470 different drugs are implicated in medication errors due to brand and/or generic names that looked or sounded alike. From this data, USP compiled a list of 3,170 pairs of names that look and/or sound alike. This result is nearly double the 1,750 pairs that were identified in USP's previous report on this topic in 2004.

In response to the findings, USP is calling on prescribers and pharmacists to include an "indication for use" on prescriptions. Indication for use is a phrase that signals why the patient is taking the drug (e.g. cough, infection, rash). To prevent medication errors, USP recommends that this powerful piece of information be conveyed at several points along the health care continuum. Additionally, prescribers should use trustworthy decision-support tools to help ensure accuracy. Tools such as Epocrates, Lexi-Drugs, and others have been helpful in reducing potential medication errors, and the addition of MEDMARX look-alike/sound-alike data will make such tools even stronger.

"Errors resulting from look-alike/sound-alike drugs are a problem that span
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SOURCE U.S. Pharmacopeia
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