Many words sound alike but mean different things when put into writing. Think “accept” – a verb meaning to receive or agree and “except” – a preposition meaning other than. While such confusion may cause grammar teachers to lose sleep and their student’s grades to suffer, the consequences are generally minimal. When it comes to drugs, however, it’s a different matter. The existence of confusing drug names is one of the most common causes of medication error and is of concern worldwide. Many drug names look or sound like other drug names. Contributing to this confusion are illegible handwriting and similar packaging or labeling.
Recently, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) warned pharmacists and other healthcare providers about mix-ups of a prescription eyedrop solution and a wart-removal drug with similar-sounding names after receiving reports describing situations in which nurses and pharmacists confused Durezol, a prescription corticosteroid eyedrop solution used to treat inflammation and pain following ocular surgery, and Durasal, a prescription wart remover. Both products are packaged in small applicator bottles.
In a case that led to a lawsuit against Walgreens earlier this year, a pharmacist allegedly misread a doctor’s prescription for Durezol eyedrops and instead dispensed Durasal wart remover. The patient put the wart remover into his eye, suffered “grievous personal injury,” and filed a $1 million lawsuit against Walgreens.
SRxA’s Word on Health has learned that this is not an isolated mix-up. The ISMP has published a list of hundreds of drugs with sound alike names that have come to light because mix-ups have occurred. So, before you inadvertently put wart remover in your eyes…or worse, we strongly recommend that you read the labels and patient information leaflets before taking any new medication.