In the know: Sorting through similar drug names

Stressed Out Nurses Weekly, March 9, 2009

Though pharmaceutical companies intentionally try to avoid it, some trade names are similar or sound as if they belong in another class of drugs. For example, Lasix® is a loop diuretic designed to help the kidneys get rid of extra fluid in the body, but Lexxel® is a combination drug used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure). We might confuse these brand names but would probably be better served if we learned the generics: furosemide (Lasix®) and enalapril/felodipine (Lexxel®).

Other confusing brand name examples include:

  • Soma® (a muscle relaxant) competing in our memory for Sonata® (sleep aid)
  • Celexa® (antidepressant) potentially confused with Celebrex® (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug for arthritis)

Still, nurses clearly can't, and absolutely don't need to, remember every drug name. It is important to know how drugs are sorted and clustered. You will find that generic names within a drug class—particularly, the ending of names—often are similar enough to ease the learning process.

Source: Stressed Out About Pharmacology, HCPro, Inc. 2008. Be sure to pick up your copy today!

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