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Same drug, different name?

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what meds?Why are some drugs called different names in different countries? Is it the same drug but a different name or is it a different drug? Are the drug companies deliberately trying to confuse us? Here’s a brief explanation from Saul.  Prescription drugs on the market are given a proprietary trade name in order to brand them and make then unique and trade-marketable. While I don’t know the definitive answer to the question “same drug, different name?  I do have some ideas on why drug companies often use different drug names in different countries, even though it’s the same product.
  1. The name may be offensive in one country so the drug company may choose to market under a new name.
  2. The name may already be associated to a product in a certain country so the drug company is forced to market under a different name
  3. The trademark may already be in use
If you know a better reason – let us know ! Here are some common drugs that are marketed in different countries under different names.
USA name International name
Advair Seretide
Androgel Testogel
Lexapro Cipralex
Celebrex Celebra
Cosaar Ocsaar
Zocor Simovil
Zetia Ezetrol
Lovenox Clexane
Can any of you see why these same drugs have different names? It’s quite scary to think of all the possible drug mix-ups due to name changing. Even scarier is when the same brand medication has different ingredients. An example of this is dilacor in the USA containd diltiazem a drug used to reduce blood pressure. In Serbia dilacor contains digoxin a drug used in congestive heart disease. The patient ended up in hospital with digoxin poisoning. Many patients and health professionals do not realize that the same brand name medication may be used for different drugs in different countries, a practice that as a recent mix-up shows can cause serious harm. This overlooked issue has major safety implications, especially in light of the growing interest in drug re-importation to help U.S. consumers save money.  

Safe Practice Recommendations

Be cautious of drug information obtained only from the Internet. The Internet knows no national boundaries, so information (even drug names) found may be inaccurate and/or not applicable to health care in the United States. At, we try to help your customers out by stating the American name as well as the International or Israel name. If you are a physician, always question patients on the reason they are taking their medications so as not to rely solely on drug references. Make sure they know what brand they are taking, what active ingredient is important and what it does. It’s also a good idea to remind patients to carry an adequate supply of medications when they travel to avoid having to purchase new medication abroad. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, that’s why it’s important to educate patients on what they are taking. Make sure they are aware of the generic name as well as the brand name, this will help to avoid confusions. Those needing a temporary supply while overseas should confirm that the correct drug has been dispensed, as brand name products may contain different active ingredients in different countries. Take a look at this drug list – you can see the most commonly confused drugs on it. The names and sounds can often be similar but the medication is actually totally different.
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