english.prescrire.org > Spotlight > Archives : 2010 > Self-medication: "umbrella" brands with misleading names persist

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Self-medication: "umbrella" brands with misleading names persist

"Umbrella" brands, which cover drugs with different compositions under a single brand name, are a potential source of patient error. But driven by pharmaceutical companies' marketing strategies, these brands are enjoying a growing presence in the self-medication market.

The self-medication market is witnessing sales campaigns similar to those for mass-market consumer products, including attractive packaging and the use of brand names designed to build "consumer" loyalty.

Name changes concerning self-medication drugs are part of a sales strategy whose subtleties escape patients and healthcare professionals. For example the Pectosan° "umbrella" range (covering different drugs under the same brand name) is limited, but it continues to co-exist alongside the Clarix° range. The sugar-free syrup for adults with 5% carbocisteine is sold under the brand name Clarix°, and the same product containing sugar goes under the name of Pectosan°. The adult pentoxyverine-based syrup is sold under the name of Pectosan° whereas the children’s version is labelled Clarix°. The international nonproprietary names (INN, the drug’s real name) are visible in the brand names of the Clarix° range, but they are not prominent on the packaging.

Different names for the same substance; very diverse substances under the same name: the strategy behind umbrella ranges is to create consumer loyalty to a product range, but not to inform patients about the medicines they buy.

©Prescrire May 2010

Source: "Gamme "ombrelle" Clarix° : DCI trop peu visibles" Rev Prescrire 2010; 30 (318): 264.