What’s In A Name?

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.

Walgreens tells Washington: No profit – no drugs

Walgreen’s has put the State of Washington on notice.   Because Washington has not adjusted its Medicaid reimbursements, branded script reimbursement does not cover Walgreens’ costs.   Effective April 16, none of the 121 Walgreen’s pharmacies operating in Washington will accept any new Medicaid patients.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed that the alternatives we’ve suggested have failed to achieve a compromise,” said Kermit Crawford, Walgreens Executive VP of Pharmacy. “We intend to continue our commitment to serving our existing patients, but we simply cannot take on additional losses.”

As government intervention and manipulation of the free market continues apace, Word on Health is concerned about the effect this will have on prescription drug manufacturers.

As if the prospect of Government mandated use of generics is not enough to cripple the branded prescription market, if prescription products can be substituted with OTC products paid out of the consumer’s pocket, both third party payers and OTC manufacturers would benefit.

To a large degree major Rx/OTC shifts have already happened for chronic disease therapies, i.e.

  • non-sedating anti-histamines (allergy)
  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (arthritis)
  • proton pump inhibitors (reflux)

However, since all chain pharmacies situate the pharmacist at the rear of the store to enhance impulse purchases of OTC products, the decrease in foot traffic from prescriptions could decrease OTC sales too.

Time for another healthcare reform? Word on Health wants to hear from you.