Mercaptamine and mercaptopurine: confusion between drug names

Prescribers should remain vigilant with regards to the similarity of these 2 drug names.

Article date: October 2010

We have been made aware of a medication error in which a 9-month-old who should have been prescribed mercaptamine by their GP was erroneously prescribed mercaptopurine. After about 1 month of incorrect therapy, the child was admitted to hospital with pancytopenia; the child has now made a full recovery.

We would like to remind prescribers to remain vigilant with regards to the similarity of these 2 drug names.

Mercaptamine is indicated for the treatment of proven nephropathic cystinosis. Mercaptopurine is indicated for the treatment of acute leukaemia.

Suspected adverse drug reactions, including those arising from medication errors, should be reported on a Yellow Card (see www.yellowcard.gov.uk).

Article citation: Drug Safety Update October 2010: vol 4, issue 3: S3.

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