One of the most common errors made in the health care industry is medication – giving the wrong stuff to the patient. There are a lot of root causes, and this article highlights one of them.
I certainly understand that the commercial pharmaceutical industry wants to establish and maintain brand awareness. And I am equally certain that they don’t really consider it "their problem" if "someone doesn’t pay attention" and prescribes the wrong medication; dispenses the wrong medication; administers the wrong medication or takes the wrong medication.
This is one of the problems with a complex system – where a problem originates in one part, but is only felt in another part.
Ultimately the solution is fairly simple. Assign an alpha-numeric code, not to the brand, but to the formulation, including the strength / dosage. Use that code for all bar coding, RF tags, database records, prescriptions, etc.
If it would help, combine that code with colored labels, backgrounds, shapes, etc. Anything to help visual distinguish one product from another.
This is, of course, not a 100% bullet-proof solution. But humans are really poor at distinguishing similar looking words from one another. We don’t see letters, we hear the sounds. This is an appropriate case where technology, which is well suited for this kind of thing, can be a big help.
Will it eliminate all errors? Of course not. Mislabeling or mixing mistakes are also common. But this would attack the problem cited in the article at its root. Then the companies can name their products anything they want, and we also eliminate all kinds of overburden on the already overworked attorneys.