Drugs are bad any way you spell them


My parents and teachers preached to me since I was a teenager about how bad drugs are. They didn’t harp on them before that because all we had was aspirin and milk of magnesia.

docOnly a few months ago I bragged to my girlfriends that I was not on any prescription drug medication, quite a feat at my (ahem) advanced age. Bad move. Within two months I would be on five different medications and mainlining chemotherapy. Be very careful what you brag about because it has a way of turning on you.

I’m wondering who has the very important job of naming all these new drugs being marched out by the pharmaceutical companies. Who ever it is must be on drugs while naming the drugs because they get more ludicrous with every new pill that hits the market.

This week I saw slick TV ads for Xalkori, Xgeva, Zytiga, Xtandi and Zometa. They should offer space suits to go along with the pills. There seems to be a proclivity for naming drugs with non-pronounceable space-age words that begin with X and Zs. It’s enough to make an old-school advertising executive scratch his Brylcreemed head.

messyThese odd sounding names could become really dangerous given the notoriously poor handwriting of most doctors – my own doctor excluded, of course. It wouldn’t do to get on his bad side. And so many of these new pills look alike and sound alike. Think of Zantac and Xanax, Paxil and Plavix, Neulasta and Lunesta.

Medication confusion is nothing to scoff at. If cancer patients think they’re taking Neulasta to boost their immune system after chemotherapy, but they’re unwittingly taking the sleeping pill Lunesta instead, that can have serious consequences.

I read that 174 incidents of drug name confusion have occurred in the last few years. Of these, 16 resulted in death and at least nine more caused life-threatening illnesses.


Boy would I love the job of naming the plethora of pills flooding the market today. Wouldn’t that be fun? I would give them easily relatable names like fatmeltox and veinclutterclapper for cholesterol meds, and Geauxmeaux for colonics. Happidaze (preferably delivered in chewable Gummy Bear form) sounds like the perfect antidepressant. Fidofleanix would make a great flea medication for the pet population.

I still laugh when I think about Lucille Ball (above)advertising Vitameatavegamin on her 1950s show.  I think it was 95 percent alcohol.  See how misleading drugs can be?

The names I would give new pills would make some kind of sense rather than sounding like some crazy guy in a meth lab in Canada drew letters out of a box and arranged them in a nonsensical order.

Believe it or not, the economy might have something to do with the proliferation of these head-scratching brand names. During tough financial times many drug manufacturers skip human consultants and use computerized algorithmic name generators because they just want something that will get quick approval from the FDA and don’t care how ridiculous the name looks or sounds.

I can believe that. Does anyone know what an algorithm might be? I think mine may be acting up. I hope there’s a prescription for that.

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