News In Brief

Lipitor or Zyrtec? How a doctor’s bad handwriting can change your prescription

Gregory Warner May 12, 2011

How does a prescription for Lipitor turn into one for Zyrtec? Or the diabetes drug Avandia get mistaken for the potentially deadly blood thinner Coumadin?

In my story later today on Marketplace about the art and danger of pharmaceutical branding, you’ll hear from pharmacist and name safety expert Susan Proulx, who reveals a scary side effect of the pharmaceutical name game: thousands of drugs get mistaken for each other because their names either look or sound similar. Even more alarming, the incorrect drugs get into the hands of patients because of a doctor’s really bad handwriting, as Marketplace Health Desk intern Michael Bernstein illustrates in this video story.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.