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The FDA’s Part in Preventing Sound-Alike Drugs from Getting Confused

David W. Hodges
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Partner at Kennedy Hodges LLP practicing pharmacy error, medical malpractice and personal injury law
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Pharmacists may confuse similar drug names or mistaken one medication for another that sounds similar. This is why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has to approve every drug name—to alleviate confusion of similar-sounding or similar-looking drug names.

What if the FDA makes a mistake?

The FDA requires all drug manufacturers to name their new drugs with a unique name. This is why FDA reviewers run tests to determine if a proposed drug name could be mistaken for an already existing drug, as well as handwriting tests to see if a scribbled prescription name could look similar to an already existing drug name. Although they conduct tests before approving a new drug name—and they reject many names—they may also let a sound-alike or look-alike medication name pass by.

According to many pharmacists, the FDA’s screening process is not perfect, and they are letting more confusing drug names fall through the regulatory cracks.

Examples of similar drug names that the FDA approved and many pharmacists have confused for one another:

  • Paxil and Plavix
  • Zantaz and Xanax
  • Neulasta and Lunesta

These pairs of similarly-named medications are just some of the many drugs that doctors and pharmacists have reported to be confusing. Unfortunately, patients suffer when a doctor writes the wrong prescription or a pharmacist fills the wrong medication by mistake.

If a pharmacy filled the wrong prescription or gave you someone else’s medication and you have been harmed, you need to seek medical treatment and contact an experienced pharmacy error lawyer for legal advice. Call Kennedy Hodges for a free consultation today at 888-526-7616.

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