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Medical News & Perspectives
April 28, 2004

Similar Drug Names a Risky Prescription

JAMA. 2004;291(16):1948-1949. doi:10.1001/jama.291.16.1948

Coming up with unique and distinguishable names for drugs in development—monikers that will not be confused with one or more of the thousands of drug names already found on pharmacy shelves—is no easy task.

But confusion is occurring. Whether handwritten, typed, or verbally spoken, drug orders are repeatedly botched as a result of sound-alike and look-alike names. While such mix-ups often cause little or no harm to patients, they sometimes are fatal.