Nurses deal with medications every day in the workplace. You may have heard how the names of approximately 200 medications are being changed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration ‘The aim is to harmonise Australian medicine names with international names to reduce confusion and inconsistency, which ultimately improves medication safety and the quality use of medicines’.
Most of the changes will have a four-year transitional arrangement. However, a short list of medicines has seven years to transition, with a requirement for dual labelling during this period. Adrenaline and noradrenaline are special cases and will always be known as ‘adrenaline (epinephrine)’ and ‘noradrenaline (norepinephrine)’. Some medicine names will not change e.g.
include paracetamol, glibenclamide and salbutamol.
Changes to medicine names can be separated into five main categories. Adrenaline and noradrenaline have received special treatment. Due to their therapeutic use in anaphylaxis and life-threatening situations, the risk in changing the names completely to the INN nomenclature is too great in terms of safe prescribing, dispensing and administration. Adrenaline and noradrenaline will now always be known dually as ‘adrenaline (epinephrine)’ and ‘noradrenaline (norepinephrine)’. The transition for a selection of medicines that are either more frequently used or have a higher risk will take an additional three years, and dual labelling will be required. This will consist of the new INN name and the old approved name in parentheses afterwards. For example, ‘frusemide’ should be displayed as ‘furosemide (frusemide)’ until 2023, after which it will be just referred to as ‘furosemide‘. Many other changes are minor spelling differences or naming the hydration or salt for completeness and clarification in line with INN nomenclature. These changes will have a four-year transition period and do not require dual labelling.
In the long term, making medicine names more consistent with nomenclature in other countries will provide clarity and reduce confusion for Australian consumers and health practitioners who travel internationally. It should also help those who trained or have practised overseas.
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