The Perils of Confusing Drug Brand Names

With the proliferation of similar-sounding brand names for drugs, it's getting increasingly easy for us to mix up our meds.


Lipitor is one of the county's top-selling drugs and the patented statin is designed to treat the symptoms of our often unhealthy diets—it lowers cholesterol levels.

Greg Warner, of Marketplace's Health Desk, recently looked into the fascinating name game that goes into drug marketing, which can make the difference between a successful drug and an outright failure. Part of what makes a successful drug brand name comes down to its sound and associations. Just as phonetic-sounding names can play a role in branding and selling foods or altering our perception of flavor, a name like Celebrex carries pretty obvious positive connotations.

Unlike foods, though, the Food and Drug Administration gets final approval of any drug's name and, when it comes down to medicine, confusing two similar-sounding products can have deadlier consequences, as pharmacist Susan Proulx explains in this video. And similar looking drug names can be a problem, too. A doctor's bad handwriting can result in a patient getting meds for allergies instead of cholesterol—or even worse mix-ups.