Navigation Links
What's in a Name? When It Comes to Drugs, Plenty
Date:8/6/2008

Doctors and pharmacists struggle to keep pace with medications that sound alike but aren't

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 6 (HealthDay News) -- You say tomato, I say tomahto.

Which is all well and good as long as we're talking about fruits and vegetables -- but not so good if the nurse says "fentanyl" and the hospital pharmacist hears "sufentanil," as happened to one patient preparing for an endoscopy.

The patient, given an opioid about 10 times more potent than the one prescribed, ended up in cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

The problem of sound-alike/look-alike drug names and its close cousin -- plain old mispronunciation -- abounds. The dilemma would almost be comical, except that people can die.

"[Mispronunciation] is more than a challenge, it's also a danger," said Robert Stanberry, assistant professor of pharmacy practice at Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy.

"If you pronounce it wrong, you may end up with the wrong drug," added Marilyn Storch, coordinator for all patient safety projects and the health care quality and information department at U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), the official "standards-setting" authority for medications, dietary supplements and other health-care products sold in the United States.

And more words -- and syllables -- are entering the drug world all the time.

"As drugs proliferate, they start to sound alike, like Celexa and Celebrex," said Dr. Kennedy, director of geriatric psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. "It's just going to get worse with increases in the number of drugs and in the number of unfamiliar names."

Also, bear in mind that for countless physicians, many medications that they were trained to pronounce and prescribe when they were in medical school are no longer used, Kennedy added.

The Celexa/Celebrex combination is a classic example, but there are others. Losec, for heartburn, was confused so often with Lasix, a diuretic, that the name was changed to Prilosec. But now that gets confused with Prozac, according to a USP report.

And the Alzheimer's drug Reminyl was changed to Razadyne after mix-ups involving Amaryl, which lowers blood sugar. The mix-ups reportedly resulted in two deaths.

And what about names that are just too long? The generic name for Flurizan, an investigational Alzheimer's drug, is tarenflurbil. "It's almost too many syllables to pronounce," Kennedy said. Does anyone know how to pronounce bapineuzumab, another investigational drug for Alzheimer's?

The report issued earlier this year by USP on the relationship between drug names and medication errors reviewed more than 26,000 records. It found almost 1,500 different drugs implicated in medication errors as a result of names that looked or sounded alike. The drugs in question added up to 3,170 pairs, double the number of pairs found in a 2004 report. According to the document, 1.4 percent of the errors resulted in patient harm, including seven that may have played a part in patient death.

To be fair, there have been initiatives aiming to fix the problem, such as a pronunciation guide from the United States Adopted Names Council, and the "good naming practices" effort from the drug industry trade group PhRMA (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America), not to mention the Unique Ingredient Identifier system being developed by USP and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as well as efforts to bar code all drugs.

Since 2002, the USP Nomenclature Expert Committee has been reviewing drug-name pronunciations to ensure consistency. The council actually changed the entry in the dictionary for ibuprofen to reflect a suggested pronunciation.

But what happens when globalism comes into play?

"As far as pronunciation of words, my experience is that it's pretty much all over the place," Stanberry said. Americans and the British pronounce "barbiturate" differently and both are right.

"Even if you were pronouncing something correctly, if you had a really deep Southern drawl, it's not going to sound the same. Or if you come in with an English accent or a French accent or a Texas accent, you may be pronouncing it correctly, but it's not going to sound the same," Storch said.

And sometimes, no one seems to know the correct pronunciation.

Stanberry recalls being at a conference last year and listening to a speaker repeatedly mispronounce a drug name -- or so he believed. "I thought, 'This guy's just mispronouncing this terribly, and he's the speaker.' But he actually studied under the guy who discovered the drug."

Then again, the speaker was British. Stanberry is American.

More information

The Merck Manuals has a guide to drug-name pronunciations.



SOURCES: Robert Stanberry, J.D., Pharm.D., assistant professor of pharmacy practice, Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy, Kingsville; Gary Kennedy, M.D., director, geriatric psychiatry, Montefiore Medical Center, New York City; Marilyn Storch, coordinator, patient safety projects and health care quality and information department, U.S. Pharmacopeia, Rockville, Md.; 2008, USP report


'/>"/>
Copyright©2008 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. Whats in a name? Initials linked to success, study shows
2. No substitute for hard work: Creatine supplementation does not improve exercise outcomes in COPD
3. CollaborateMD Becomes a Habitat for Humanity International HopeBuilder
4. Magellan Biosciences Companies to Feature Diagnostic Products Designed to Improve Health Outcomes at the Clinical Lab Expo
5. IPRO Welcomes Back Anthony Shih as Chief Quality Officer, Strategic Planning Lead
6. Trusted LASIK Surgeons Welcomes Top LASIK Expert Randy Epstein, M.D. of Chicago to it's Unique Lasik Directory Service
7. With $2M NIH grant, FSU becomes 1 of worlds top imaging centers
8. New research from Rhode Island Hospital may help predict outcomes for stomach cancer patients
9. Brain Cancer Vaccines Immune Response Key to Outcomes
10. Brain cancer study: Magnitude of post-vaccine immune response linked to clinical outcomes
11. When it comes to putting, Tiger and Nicklaus might not have best advice
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:8/17/2017)... ... 17, 2017 , ... The award-winning producers of the Innovations ... Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC), slated to air nationwide, fourth quarter 2017. ... a non-profit, international organization dedicated to professional excellence for the protection of consumers ...
(Date:8/17/2017)... ... ... Georgia Urology, the largest urology practice in the Southeastern United ... in East Cobb (4800 Olde Towne Parkway, Suite 220, Marietta). , “Georgia ... Haber, Georgia Urology’s managing partner. “She brings a passionate, fresh perspective on general urology ...
(Date:8/17/2017)... ... 17, 2017 , ... The 2017 Integrated Delivery Network (IDN) ... interact with their GPO and supplier partners. This year, Winifred Hayes, RN, PhD, ... of Clinical Value Analytics, have been invited to present “Episode-based Reimbursement and the ...
(Date:8/17/2017)... ... ... In its just released 2018 Edition, The Best Lawyers in America named ... consecutive year that Hardiman and Mills have been honored and the seventh year in ... Care Law while Mills was recognized in the Administrative and Regulatory Law category. ...
(Date:8/17/2017)... Angeles, California (PRWEB) , ... August 17, 2017 , ... ... the number of South Korean men obtaining plastic surgery, largely influenced by the growing ... and beauty clinic Beverly Hills Physicians notes that standards of male appearance are changing ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:8/14/2017)... and PETACH TIKVAH, Israel , Aug. ... a leading developer of adult stem cell technologies for ... ending June 30, 2017. ... for our pivotal Phase 3 trial to investigate NurOwn ... President and Chief Executive Officer of BrainStorm. "We have ...
(Date:8/7/2017)... 7, 2017 Insightin Health, provider of ... and engagement, announced the selection of Michael ... Development, effective as of February 2017. In this role, ... strategy for our clients. Wood brings with him ... and business analytics within the healthcare industry. Wood ...
(Date:8/4/2017)... Aug. 4, 2017 The search for test ... a physician/patient consult has long been the goal of ... notable focus of the largest meeting of lab professionals ... healthcare market research firm Kalorama Information.  The firm said ... offerings or related supplies and software were at the ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: