More than 7,000 deaths each year are attributed to medication errors. Of
those, approximately 25 percent occur when doctors or pharmacists confuse
drug names that look or sound alike.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) screens medication names before drugs are approved, the growing number
of brand name and generic drugs on the market still leads to mix-ups.
Examples of drug name confusion reported to the FDA include:
- Serzone (nefazodone) for depression and Seroquel (quetiapine) for schizophrenia
- Lamictal (lamotrigine) for epilepsy, Lamisil (terbinafine) for nail infections,
Ludiomil (maprotiline) for depression, and Lomotil (diphenoxylate) for diarrhea
- Taxotere (docetaxel) and Taxol (paclitaxel), both for chemotherapy
- Zantac (ranitidine) for heartburn, Zyrtec (cetirizine) for allergies, and
Zyprexa (olanzapine) for mental conditions
- Celebrex (celecoxib) for arthritis and Celexa (citalopram) for depression.
Unfortunately, medication errors due to drug name confusion can have serious
consequences and even lead to death. The most serious errors often involve
insulin products and opiate narcotics, which often have strict dosage
requirements for each specific medication. For instance, the FDA reports
the death of an eight-year-old child who was inadvertently given methadone,
a drug used to treat opiate dependence, rather than the intended Metadate
ER (methylphenidate) for the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity
For patients concerned about medication errors, we encourage you to verify
the name of the medication you are being prescribed as well as its intended
use. This information should be cross-referenced with the pharmacist or
other health professional dispensing the drug.
If you or someone you love has suffered serious harm due to a medical error,
you may be entitled to compensation. For more information, please contact
a San Diego medical malpractice attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage
for a free consultation.