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Should prescription medications share the same name?

The name of medications may have more to do with medication errors than you'd think. Similar names can be confusing, and even a minor mistake can lead to patients getting the wrong medication. A July 2 report has said that the FDA has been urged to stop giving biosimilar drugs unique names, because it could lead to confusion. Some have argued that this could lead to a slowdown in the U.S.'s attempt to lower drug costs, however.

For instance, patient and prescribers could be looking for a biosimilar drug with a different name and make a mistake by ordering the wrong prescription medication. By using a name that covers all drugs of the same type and make, physicians would only need to worry about one name, not generic names and various brand names.

Brand-name drug makers and biotechs don't want drugs to have the same names, because there should be a distinction between the original biologics and new or different variants. In their opinion, it makes it easier to track adverse events if each type of biologically similar drug has a different name. Arguably, a distinct name also leads to better marketability.

Generic drug makers think that creating a new naming standard could cause confusion for pharmacists and physicians. According to their claims, those medical providers would have to sort out if the products are actually the same and then also verify dosing and dosing regimens.

In Washington, D.C., you may have faced problems from medications that weren't prescribed correctly, and this could be an issue that contributed to it. If you've been hurt by drugs you were prescribed, you may want to seek legal advice that can help you determine how to best seek compensation.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "What's in a Name? FDA Urged Not to Give Biosimilars Unique Names," July 2, 2014.

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