Drug name change program continues

As many as 200 medicines have already, or will soon, have new names as the TGA pushes ahead with its policy of harmonising Australian drug names with their common international forms

In 2013 the TGA announced it would begin a project to harmonise Australian drug names and their excipients (inactive ingredients) with overseas naming conventions. From April 2016, the TGA began updating some medicine and ingredient names to be consistent with International Non-proprietary Names.

A four-year transition period has been set to allow manufacturers, health professionals and patients to adjust to the changes.

Writing in the latest edition of Australian Prescriber, Jerry Yik, SHPA policy analyst, says the move to harmonise Australian medicine names with international names is a “welcome one”.

“Although there is likely to be some short-term disruption during the transition, the longer-term benefits of improved consistency and reduced confusion align with the principles of the quality use of medicines and medication safety”.

“It is our responsibility as health professionals to convey these changes to patients to minimise confusion,” said Mr Yik.

Among the medicines whose names are being altered are:

  • Amoxycillin – spelling change to amoxicillin
  • Cephalexin – spelling change to cefalexin
  • Cyclosporine – ciclosporin
  • Oestradiol – estradiol
  • Carbidopa anhydrous – carbidopa
  • Codeine phosphate – codeine phosphate hemihydrate
  • Frusemide – will be dual labelled till 2023 as furosemide (frusemide)
  • Lignocaine – dual labelled till 2023 as lidocaine (lignocaine)

Adrenaline and noradrenaline are special cases and will always be known as ‘adrenaline (epinephrine)’ and ‘noradrenaline (norepinephrine)’, the TGA has stated.

Mr Yik highlighted the impact of the changes, saying that they go further than just affecting health practitioners and consumers.

“Resources such as the Australian Medicines Handbook, the Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Medicines Guide, and the Australian Injectable Drugs Handbook will need to consider the TGA’s determination when reviewing their next editions.

Pharmaceutical companies that prepare medicines information will need to review the content to ensure it aligns with the updated medicine and excipient names during the transition period, and then again in 2020 or 2023 when the transitional arrangements expire,” he said.

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