1 Feb 2008 | Medication Safety
International Nonproprietary Names (INNs) are the official generic names for pharmaceuticals as designated by the World Health Organization (WHO). The other nomenclature systems in use are BAN (British Approved Names), USAN (United States Adopted Names), AAN (Australian Approved Names). New Zealand does not specify which nomenclature to use in legislation or as part of the medicine registration process so could receive medicines using any of these nomenclature. However Medsafe (regulatory body) has advocated use of the INN (other than on products containing adrenaline and noradrenaline) in its medicine labelling guideline for the industry.
As some countries have changed completely to using rINNs, New Zealand has been receiving a number of INN labelled medicines. There is no official change over period for the naming of these medicines in New Zealand so doctors, pharmacists, nurses and patients may first observe the change when they see the medicine or someone tells them. While for most medicine names there will be little or no change, there is concern about the impact this may have on patients who have supplies of the same medicine with different nomenclature and may not take a medicine with an unfamiliar name or end up taking duplicate doses (Figure 1).
Figure 1 - Examples of common medicines facing a name change:
The following tips may minimise the confusion caused by medicine name changes: