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Health Agencies Update
February 22, 2006

US and Foreign Drug Names

JAMA. 2006;295(8):880. doi:10.1001/jama.295.8.880-c

An investigation by the Food and Drug Administration has revealed that more than 100 US drug brand names have foreign counterparts that look or sound so similar that patients filling a prescription abroad may receive a drug with the wrong active ingredient (http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/reports/confusingnames.html).

For example, in the United States, Flomax is a brand name for tamsulosin, prescribed for an enlarged prostate, but in Italy, the active ingredient in a drug with the brand name Flomax is morniflumate, an anti-inflammatory drug. In the United States, Norpramin is the brand name for an antidepressive drug containing desipramine, but in Spain, Norpramin is the name of a drug that contains omeprazole, a treatment for stomach ulcers.

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