The Therapeutic Goods Administration is changing the names of approximately 200 medicines in Australia to make them consistent with international names.
It’s a move experts say will improve medication safety, especially for those who travel overseas.
“The change will reduce confusion for Australian patients and health practitioners who travel internationally,” says Jerry Yik, policy analyst for the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia. “It should also help health practitioners who trained or have practised overseas.”
The TGA determines the Australian Approved Names for all medicines. However in some instances, the Australian medicine name is not consistent with its more widely known name internationally (determined by the World Health Organization). These changes will seek to harmonise Australian medicine names with those overseas.
The United Kingdom and New Zealand underwent the same process in 2003 and 2008. There is a four-year transition period to allow manufacturers, health professionals and patients to adjust to the name changes.
A short list of medicines that are more frequently used or carry higher risks will have seven years to transition and they will require dual labelling during this period. Adrenaline will always be known as adrenaline (epinephrine) due to its use in anaphylaxis and life-threatening situations.
Jerry Yik says that the long-term benefits will outweigh some of the short-term risks with changing drug names.
“Changes to medicine names can put people at risk of medication errors but reducing confusion and inconsistency with medicine names will ultimately improve medication safety,” he says.
The TGA has developed resources for patients to be displayed at GP clinics, pharmacies and hospitals to raise awareness about the medicine name changes. A full list of the affected medicines can also be viewed on the TGA website.