Concerns have been raised after it was found that nearly 1,500 commonly used drugs have names so similar to at least one other medication that mix-ups have occurred.
The US drugs watchdog, United States Pharmacopeia (USP), has launched an online tool to let consumers and health professionals check whether they are using or prescribing any of drugs likely to be confused with other medicines.
The not-for-profit Institute for Safe Medication Practices and online health service iGuard.org have also joined forces to create a website that will send users email alerts about drug-name confusion.
The US Food and Drug Administration, which has the job of vetting proposed names to see whether they are too similar to old ones, is also preparing a pilot programme that would shift more responsibility to manufacturers to guard against name confusion.
The goal is to spell out how to better test for potential mix-ups before companies seek approval to sell their products.
USP vice president Diane Cousins said: “There are so many new drugs approved each year, this problem can only get worse.”
Copyright PA Business 2008