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In this case, the child was prescribed Metadate to treat his attention-deficit disorder. But the pharmacist mistakenly filled the prescription for Methadone-a drug used to wean opiate addicts off of heroin. The boy was found dead at home after taking the drug, and the cause of death was a simple mistake at the pharmacy.
While stories like these are tragic, they are by no means isolated. The Institute of Medicine estimates that over 7,000 deaths are caused by medication mistakes each year, many of them due to sound-alike drugs.
A few sound-alike drugs that have resulted in fatal prescription mis-fills:
- Serzone (a depression drug) and Seroquel (a schizophrenia drug)
- Taxotere and Taxol (both chemotherapy mediations, but with different concentrations)
- Celebrex (for arthritis) and Celexa (for depression)
- Lamictal (epilepsy medication), Lamisil (treats nail infections), Ludiomil (depression drug), and Lomotil (an anti-diarrheal)
- Zantac (heartburn medication), Zyrtec (antihistamine), and Zyprexa (depression drug)
Not all cases of sound-alike drug confusion have long-lasting effects. However, the mistake is an easy one to make-and with a little planning, it can easily be corrected.
A few things the FDA is dong to avoid these kinds of errors in the future:
- Comparing before approval. Of the over 300 new drugs the FDA reviews each year, roughly one-third of the names proposed by drug companies are rejected because they are too similar to something already on the market. The FDA also uses a computerized simulation to detect other drugs that might cause name confusion.
- Changing names. In 2004, the cholesterol-lowering medication Altocor was being confused with the similarly-named Advicor. As a result, Altocor is now called Altoprev-and the agency hasn't received any reports of errors since.
- Failsafes. The FDA recommends that pharmacies separate similarly-named products on different shelves, and encourages physicians to clearly write both the brand name, the generic medication name, and what the drug is used for on all prescription orders.
Even though the agency is working hard to reduce these errors, they still happen on a daily basis-and can change the life of someone you love. If you need help from an experienced Texas pharmacy error attorney, call Kennedy Hodges at 888-526-7616 today for a free consultation.