Risky Errors on Rise With Sound-Alike Drugs

Study finds prescription mix-ups more than doubled since 2004
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2008 9:24 AM CST
A selection of prescription drugs, including Allegra, Zyprexa, Levitra, Cialis and Lipitor are shown in an Indianapolis pharmacy, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2008. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The problem of drug-name mix-ups is growing in the US, with harmful and sometimes even fatal consequences for patients, USA Today reports. A study undertaken by the group that regulates generic drug names found that the rate of mix-ups has more than doubled since 2004. In one case, a 7-year-old boy ended up in the emergency room after being given schizophrenia drug Zyprexa instead of  the allergy drug Zyrtec.

Researchers found twice as many pairs of drugs with similar names last year than in 2004. The groups recommends that pharmacists separate drugs with similar generic or brand names to avoid confusion. They also suggest labeling changes to highlight differences between names, and using simple language in prescriptions.