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Watchdog warns over medication name confusion

28 September, 2005

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca
have sent letters to health care professionals in the United States
reporting dispensing and prescribing errors connected with the
anti-epileptic drugs Topamax and Tegretol.

The
FDA reports medication errors due to the similarity of the names of
Topamax, Tegretol and Toprol-XL, a drug licensed for the treatment of
hypertension and angina. These reports include instances where
Toprol-XL was incorrectly given to patients instead of Topamax,
Tegretol, or Tegretol-XR, and vice versa, some of them leading to
serious side effects.

In
a letter to professionals, AstraZeneca has asked doctors to take extra
care when prescribing medication, suggesting that prescriptions should
be legible and use both the brand name of the drug and its generic
name. They have also asked pharmacists to take extra care when
dispensing medication.