Why do Drugs have Crazy Names?

Adrian Baciu (freeimages.com)

Everyone agrees that drug names are becoming ever more crazy. For instance, why all those X’s and Z’s in brand names (Pradaxa, Xarelto, Xeljanz, Zyprexa)?

Generic names can be even more mouth-boggling. Can you remember that acetaminophen is the generic name for Tylenol, and can you pronounce it? If you want to get it when visiting Europe, however, you’ll have to ask for paracetamol. Both of those names get their syllables from a chemical name of the compound: para-acetylaminophenol.

But the names of most generics (like brand names) are largely or completely made up and illogical, except that some related drugs share a suffix, such as “-statin” at the end of cholesterol-lowering drugs like simvastatin (Lipitor) or rosuvastatin (Crestor), and “-azepam” for tranquilizers like lorazepam (Ativan) or temazepam (Restoril).

Tongue-twisting generic names are a big problem since the vast majority of drugs are now dispensed as generics, leading to growing concerns that if names are mispronounced or misread and drugs misidentified, patients could be harmed. Avoiding such confusions is one of the rationales for electronic prescriptions. Read the rest of this entry »

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What’s in your Flu Shot?

An influenza expert at Johns Hopkins University explains how the cocktail for this year’s flu vaccine was developed

Predicting which fast-mutating influenza viruses will dominate the flu season more than six months before it happens is notoriously difficult yet the ponderous global vaccine production process demands maximum lead time. So, scientists have to take their best guess based on the available data.

In March, the WHO rolled out its recommended composition for flu vaccines in the Northern Hemisphere. (It announced its next Southern Hemisphere recommendations six months or so later.) For northern climes, the WHO proposes a cocktail of H1N1, H3N2 and a B virus—and for those interested in a quadrivalent vaccine, a dash of B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus.

For an explanation on the process for making vaccines and related issues, Global Health Now spoke this spring to Andrew Pekosz, director of the Center for Emerging Viruses and Infectious Diseases at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Read the rest of this entry »


How Some Everyday Drugs Can Mess With Your Mind

mspurity (freeimages.com)

mspurity (freeimages.com)

YOU WON’T BELIEVE HOW THESE MEDICATIONS CAN MESS WITH YOUR MIND…

You wouldn’t be surprised if a narcotic painkiller made you feel a little sleepy or you developed an upset stomach after taking an aspirin-like painkiller for a few days.

What most people don’t know—and their doctors don’t talk about—is that popular prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs can affect your body and your mind.

A hidden risk: Let’s say that you start taking a new drug. Weeks or even months later, you begin to feel depressed or suffer some other psychiatric symptom. You might assume that something’s wrong with you when, in fact, the drug could be to blame. Common offenders you need to know about—psychiatric side effects can occur with any dose, but the greater the drug amount, the greater the risk…

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3 Questions to Ask Your Doctor

doctor-consultationAbout a year before my mother-in-law passed away from cancer, her oncologist said nothing more could be done to treat her illness. He did not volunteer how much longer she might live, nor did he indicate how the remaining course of her disease would likely unfold. Here’s the surprising part: This doctor’s omissions were perfectly legal in the state in which he practiced. That’s because there is no law in that state that required him to disclose such information unless the patient specifically asked for it or he was proposing a treatment that required her to either accept or reject it.

This is just one of the thorny issues related to “informed consent.” Simply put, informed consent is when a doctor must tell you what he/she wants to do about your medical problem…explain the treatment or procedure in a detailed, yet understandable way (including what might go wrong)…and get your permission to proceed. To avoid confusion regarding your care, always ask your doctors these questions before you make a medical decision requiring your consent… Read the rest of this entry »


The Truth About Flu Shots

flu seasonWhen flu vaccination season comes each year, do you get vaccinated?

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Ebola Myths

 What you need to know most about this outbreak…

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Do You Really Need That Surgery?