Medications Causing Confusion

Caution!  Look-alike Drugs Ahead!

Many Medications Look and Sound Very Similar

Many drugs have very similar-sounding names and very often have similar-looking manufacturer packaging or pills.  However, BEWARE!  These similar-sounding, similar-looking drugs are often nothing alike.  These drug doppelgängers lead to inevitable mix-ups by healthcare providers and pharmacists between what you as the consumer were prescribed versus what you actually received.  In fact, such errors can cause serious, permanent damages or even death to the unsuspecting patient.  Contributing factors leading to these frequent mix-ups include:

  1. Illegible handwritten prescriptions;
  2. The first 4 letters of the manufacturer or generic name are identical;
  3. The product packaging is identical (color, branding, size, shape, etc.);
  4. The medications are stored on the same shelves in stores and pharmacies;
  5. The medications are alphabetically listed on printed-out lists and on computer screens; and
  6. The dosage strengths are often similar.

The following is a list of just some drugs that are often mixed-up:

Adderall (taken for ADHD) → Inderal (taken for high blood pressure)

Cafergot (taken for migraines) → Carafate (taken for for ulcers)

Celexa (taken for depression) → Celebrex (taken for arthritis)

Doribax (taken for kidney infections) → Zovirax (taken for herpes simplex)

Femhrt (taken for menopausal symptoms) → Femara (taken for breast cancer)

Hydrazine (taken for high blood pressure) →  Hydroxyzine (taken to treat symptoms of an allergic reaction)

Sarafem (taken for PMS) → Serophene (taken for infertility)

Zantac (taken for ulcers) → Xanax (taken for anxiety)

Examples of Look-Alike Medications:


Brintellix versus Brilinta: One is a blood-thinner and the other is an anti-depressant!


Gabapentin is used for restless leg syndrome, while Gemfibrozil is a cholesterol medication.


Sertraline is an antidepressant used to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder and anxiety, while Simvastatin is a cholesterol-lowering medication that blocks the production of cholesterol.

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