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Executive Summary

MERCK LOSEC (OMEPRAZOLE) BRANDNAME TO BE CHANGED to avoid confusion with Hoechst-Roussel's diuretic Lasix (furosemide). Merck has decided to change the brandname only eleven months after the launch of its anti-ulcer product in response to reports of prescribing confusion related to the similarity of the two drug names. Merck is expected to make the change effective on October 1. The move to the new tradename will be accompanied by a campaign of ads, letters to physicians, reminder stickers and other materials designed to publicize the switch. The campaign will resemble, in effect, a second product launch for omeprazole and could coincide with FDA approval of the extended indication for the product. In late May, an FDA advisory committee recommended approval for short-term acute and refractory duodenal ulcer. Merck was asked to consider the change in the drug tradename by FDA after the agency received reports of prescribing errors involving Losec and Lasix. No confirmed deaths or hospitalizations related directly to a mix-up have been reported to the agency. Merck said it has agreed to change the brandname for omeprazole because it is "the right thing to do" and reflects the company's commitment to the users of its products. Merck is not revealing the new brandname for omeprazole at this time due to concern that more confusion could arise between the new and old names of the products before the official change takes place. However, according to rumors in the trade, one option under consideration for the new name is a variation on the current one: Prilosec.

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