Iranian Journal of Public Health 2017. 46(12):1652-1658.

Assessment of Orthographic Similarity of Drugs Names between Iran and Overseas Using the Solar Model


Background: The recognition of patient safety is now occupying a prominent place on the health policy agenda since medical errors can result in adverse events. The existence of confusing drug names is one of the most common causes of medication errors. In Iran, the General Office of Trademarks Registry (GOTR), for four years (2010-2014) was responsible for approving drug proprietary names. This study aimed to investigate the performance of the GOTR in terms of drug names orthographic similarity using the SOLAR model.

Methods: First, 100 names were randomly selected from the GOTR’s database. Then, each name was searched through pharmaceutical websites including Martindale (the Complete Drug Reference published by Pharmaceutical Press), and Medicines Complete. Pair of drugs whose names look orthographically similar with different indications were identified. Then, the SOLAR model was utilized to determine orthographic similarity between all pair of drug names.

Results: The mean of match values of these 100 pairs of drug was 77% indicating the high risk of similarity. The match value for most of the reviewed pairs (92%) was high (≥66%). This value was medium (≥ 33% and <66%) just for 8% of the pairs of drug. These results indicate high risk of confusion due to similarity of drug names.

Conclusion: The stewardship of the GOTR in patient safety considerations is fundamentally problematic. Thus, as a best practice, we recommend that proprietary names of drugs be evaluated by an entity within the health system. While an entity within the health system should address patient safety considerations, the GOTR is responsible for intellectual property rights.




Patient safety;Drug proprietary names;Orthographic similarity; General office of trademarks registry; Solar model; Iran

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