India should immediately start Drug Brand Name Registry: Experts

The reason for LASA is because of lack of brand names database in the country. Even pharmacists are found wanting on knowledge of drug brands.

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Brand Name
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Last Updated on June 18, 2021 by The Health Master

The presence of look-alike and sound alike (LASA) drugs in the supply chain has resulted in unclear interpretation of brand names resulting in faulty dispensing across pharmacy outlets. Hence, India should immediately put in place a drug brand name registry.

The reason for LASA is because of lack of brand names database in the country. Even pharmacists are found wanting on knowledge of drug brands.

According to Sunil Chiplunkar, VP, business development, Group Pharmaceuticals, LASA is a daily challenge to pharmaceutical marketers and pharmacists. LASA is a well-known market problem, to which pharmacists should be specially alert.

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During these pandemic times, prescribers writing short forms or illegible names such as ‘amp’ that can cause problems and confusion on whether the prescription is for amphotericin or ampicillin. As such, Indian prescriptions do not carry the diagnosis of patient on the first line as they are supposed to, so the confusion gets compounded.

Errors in medicine use are attributed to the same brand name which comes about due to absence of co-ordination between central-state regulatory authorities. There is no central database and monitoring by CDSCO. This has resulted in identical brands being licensed in different states for different drugs, pointed out Dr Suresh R Saravdekar, vice- chairman-hospital division- IPA.

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For instance, Lona brand name is given to a low sodium salt formulation in one State and same Lona name is granted for clonazepam in another State. Same brand names like AZ are granted to three different formulations: AZ which could be azithromycin, AZ for  albendazole and AZ that is alprazolam. Similarly, same brand name Medzole is licensed for four drugs: Metronidazole, itraconazole, albendazole and clotrimazole.

There is also no record with the government how many drug products are in the market with same brand names or similar sounding names and brands with changed compositions.

Therefore, the regulatory authority needs to put in place a documentation system of registered drug brands which could substantially reduce chances of misbranding and wrong dispensing.

This could ultimately help India to build a national registry of drug brand names. The Union health ministry needs to take the suggestion of WHO quite seriously an act upon without delay, he added.

Another challenge is that the look-alike medications of glimepiride, amlodipine, ondansetron, atorvastatin and benzhexol. In addition, errors during dispensing of sound alike medicines: Mellaril, Paxil, Prilosec, OxyContin are also reported.

 Another issue is that the medication errors are occurring due to counterfeit medicines. This could also result in adverse drug reactions (ADR) which cause injuries or fatalities in 1 of 5 hospital patients. Even in the US, medication-related adverse events occur frequently. The cost of ADR to society is more than $136 billion annually which is greater than the total cost of cardiovascular or diabetic care, said Dr Saravdekar.

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