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Doctors and Pharmacists Often Cannot ID Common Meds

Medical practitioners correctly identify three commonly used tablets only 63 percent of the time

TUESDAY, May 2 (HealthDay News) -- More than one-third of the time, medical practitioners fail to identify three commonly used oral tablets, with brand-name medications more recognizable than generic products, according to research published in the May 1 issue of the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy.

Gordon Schiff, M.D., of the John Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County in Chicago, and colleagues randomly surveyed 100 pharmacists and physicians in two urban teaching hospitals about their ability to identify three common medications -- 80-mg brand-name simvastatin tablets, 2-mg generic lorazepam tablets and 220-mg generic, over-the-counter naproxen sodium tablets.

The researchers found that practitioners correctly identified the tablets 190 out of 300 times (63 percent). Brand-name tablets were identified 78 percent of the time, generic tablets 64 percent of the time and non-prescription generic tablets 48 percent of the time.

Five pharmacists and 10 physicians failed to identify any of the tablets. Only 18 physicians (36 percent) and 24 pharmacists (48 percent) correctly identified all three tablets. The mean time it took to identify a tablet was almost four minutes.

"Physicians and pharmacists failed to correctly identify three commonly prescribed tablets more than a third of the time," the authors write. "The brand-name tablet was correctly identified more often than were the prescription generic and non-prescription generic products."

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