Knowing Brand Name Medication Versus Generic

This is often a hot button issue with students. In the US, we work with medications that don’t always have the same name.   What’s important, knowing brand name medication versus generic names? – Let me give you an answer you probably won’t like hearing 🙂

Take warfarin for example. The generic name is warfarin, but also has brand name of Coumadin. Let’s make it more confusing as some clinicians will use Jantoven, another brand name extension. To be honest, this is a stupid system. We are asking for patients to get hurt. Unfortunately I can’t prevent doctors, nurses, or other pharmacists from using any of these terms, so I have to know them all, and you need to as well. If you don’t, you need to look them up. This is one of my 30 Medication Mistakes, a resource that is absolutely free to subscribers. – Here’s a scenario I came across that demonstrates the importance of this and certainly put our patient at risk.

I noted that an INR had not been drawn on a new resident to a LTC facility. I had left a note to the nurse to please take care of this today which led to a follow up phone call where the nurse had told me the resident was not on Coumadin (warfarin).  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made mistakes, but remembered looking at this case two or three times. I ended up going back to the med list and the nurse was right, in that he was not on Coumadin, but he was on Jantoven, a less common brand name of Coumadin (warfarin).  You might ask why the nurse didn’t look it up, and it is a legit question, but when you see a medication list of 20+ medications, things are much more likely to get missed.  If you don’t know what a medication is, you have no clue how to safely monitor that medication. Look it up.

Here’s another case of Brand Name Confusion as well.

1 Comment

  1. Karen Durrant

    I have had a few patients tell me they often get Jantoven mixed up with their Januvia. Lots of patient counseling is needed with these patients. I find asking them how they can remember the difference helps. Then reinforce this.


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Written By Eric Christianson

October 15, 2014

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