What would you do if you found out that harm was caused to you or a loved one because someone mixed up your medications, just because the names apparently sound familiar to some? I know I would be livid, and seeking some sort of justice. But me seeking justice, is not the point of this article.
Apparently, Health Canada is warning consumers that two prescription drugs, Pradax, also known as Pradaxa here in the US, and Plavix, are involved in a drug mix-up in Canada, because the names sound alike.
Sounds like a lame excuse to cover up an error if you ask me!!
The drug makers, Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd., Sanofi-Aventis Canada Inc., and Health Canada just issued a warning advising patients of the risk of medication errors connecting the 2 medications, Pradax (dabigatran) and Plavix (clopidogrel), said CBC News.
But, what are the differences in the 2 drugs?
Pradaxa is a blood thinner prescribed to patients who have an atrial fibrillation and is one of a number of new anti-blood-clotting pills expected to replace warfarin. CBC News pointed out that Pradaxa is often used after hip or knee replacement surgery to prevent blood clots. This has also recently became a highly controversial drug, as you can see in some of our recent articles, Death Toll Reaches At Least 50, and Drug Given Approval Too Quickly.
Plavix helps keep platelets in the blood from sticking together and forming clots that could lead to heart attack or stroke, Health Canada said. Plavix can be prescribed in combination with ASA to patients with irregular heartbeat who cannot take blood thinners. Plavix, on the other hand has also been linked to some severe side effects, such as, a life-threatening blood disorder in some users known as thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, or TTP. TTP is marked by the formation of blood clots in small blood vessels throughout the body. Untreated, TTP blood clots block the blood vessels and limit blood flow to the brain, kidneys, or heart.
According to the news article, since January, a total of five Canadian cases involving drug name mix-ups between Pradax and Plavix have been reported, including one patient who had non-serious bleeding after a medical procedure.
There have also been two reports of concerns raised by health care professionals about potential for confusion because the names of the two drugs are similar.
Receiving Pradax instead of Plavix or vice versa may result in harm, including increased risk of bleeding, stroke, heart attack or blood clots, Health Canada said.
Health Canada is now encouraging patients to be aware of the names and uses of all the medications they take and to carry a list of their current medications, providing it to physicians, dentists, or pharmacists if admitted to a hospital, wrote CBC News.
Also in order to prevent medication errors, patients should be certain they can read the name of their medications on written prescriptions; if not, have the doctor print the drug’s name on the prescription. Patients should also be clear as to why they are receiving their mediations and the properties and appearance of the medications they take. Customers are also encouraged to read their medications’ patient leaflets and refer questions to their doctor or druggist.
Although as consumers we should definitely be aware and pay special attention to our medications, as stated, this is simply an inexcusable error. And I believe could be avoided altogether, if the medical professionals administering the drugs simply paid special attention to details.