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After easyJet, easyCruise, easyBus, easyCar and easyHotel, is Stelios Haji-Ioannou’s easyGroup now moving into pharmaceuticals? I began to wonder after a friend told me that he could not remember the name of his cholesterol-lowering drug, except that it began with “easy”. I was puzzled until I realised that he was trying to recall “easyTroll” — ie, Ezetrol (ezetimibe).
This experience reinforces my previously expressed concerns about the need for more guidance on the pronunciation of drug names. I wrote about this problem after I heard clopidogrel pronounced as clop-i-DOG-ruhl rather than the more usual cluh-PID-uh-gruhl (PJ 2009;283:192).
Being familiar with the usual pronunciations of other drug names, most pharmacists would probably choose to pronounce Ezetrol as EZZ-i-trol and ezetimibe as eh-ZET-i-mybe. But, since I heard both “cloppy doggerel” and “easyTroll” from pharmacists, who knows?
Ezetrol’s manufacturer, MSD-SP Ltd, gives no guidance on pronunciation in its summary of product characteristics (SPC), which is intended to give healthcare professionals all the data they need, or in its patient information leaflet (PIL), which should provide essential information for the product’s end users.
But MSD-SP is by no means alone in failing to give guidance on pronunciation. Manufacturers and distributors rarely include such information in their literature. Official compendia and independent guides to medicines are equally lax.
Does it matter? I think it does, because if a health professional uses an unconventional pronunciation of a drug name — whether generic name or brand name — it could be misheard as a different drug altogether, with potentially serious consequences.
I would like to see guidance on pronunciation in every SPC and PIL, and perhaps also in books such as the British National Formulary and Martindale.