diaTribe

Here’s an example of writing geared toward a niche audience, in this case people living with diabetes.

Why Drug Names Matter

Learning Curve. December 31, 2012.

On June 27, the FDA made its final decision on whether to approve Arena’s weight management drug “Lorqess;” later that day, it announced the approval of the drug, but with a new name: “Belviq.” Less than a month later, the FDA again had to decide whether to approve another weight management medication, this time Vivus’ Qnexa. Once again, the drug was approved, but under the new name Qsymia. The drugs had not been altered in any other way, and yet the FDA was only willing to give its stamp of approval to “Belviq” and “Qsymia,” not “Lorqess” and “Qnexa.” This begs the obvious question – “Why do some drug names prove acceptable, while others do not?” It’s a query that cuts to crucial issues about the relationship between patients, drug companies, and regulatory agencies. Indeed, while drug names might seem trivial, the core issue that concerns the FDA is one of safety. Companies fundamentally choose drug names for marketing and informational purposes, though the names that get approved by the FDA are those that are least likely to place patients in danger.

At first glance, that might seem extreme. After all, how much damage can a drug’s name really do? Well, when it’s the wrong drug name, the risk is substantial. The FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) received 126,000 instances of medication errors between 2000 and 2009, many of which can be directly attributed to confusion between pairs of drug names that either sound or look alike. There are a number of reasons why such mistakes can creep into the process of prescribing medication. Let’s analyze just how drugs get their names, why errors occur, and what you need to know to ensure you get the right medication the next time you visit the pharmacy.

Read more…