Double Trouble: Wakix and Lasix sound alike

 

Confusion between the medicines Wakix (pitolisant) and Lasix (furosemide) was reported. Wakix is used to treat adults with narcolepsy (sleep disorder) for excessive daytime sleepiness. Lasix is a diuretic (or “water pill”) which increases the flow of urine to rid the body of excess fluid and salt. Using an online secure messaging system, a man was asking his doctor about a change in his dose of “Wakix” and whether he should get blood tests drawn. The man was also taking Lasix, and the dose had been changed several times over the years. The man had made several spelling errors when typing messages to his doctor. The doctor assumed the man had made a spelling error when typing “Wakix” and was instead talking about Lasix. Further questioning revealed the man actually was asking about Wakix.

While confusion between Wakix and Lasix occurred after the doctor wrongly concluded that the man had made a spelling error, these two medicine names sound similar. However, the tablet strengths of these medicines are very different, lessening the risk of mix-ups.

Here’s what you can do: While no error resulted in this case, consumers taking Wakix should be aware of the risk of confusion between Wakix and Lasix. When communicating with your doctor, be sure to verify any medicine you discuss by spelling the medicine name correctly and providing the reason you are taking it. Most sound-alike medicine names are taken for different reasons. So, stating the reason you are taking the medicine can help your doctor recognize the medicine, even if you make a spelling error.

Created on February 1, 2021

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