AstraZeneca to launch Toprol-XL awareness campaign

AstraZeneca is gearing up to launch a new educational campaign for its hypertension drug, Toprol-XL (metoprolol succinate), following reports of name confusion between the treatment and other Rx brands. The awareness program launch, taking place in installments throughout the first half of 2006, will be directed to a broad audience including pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses and patients, AstraZeneca said in a news release. The campaign is prompted by reports of name confusion between Toprol-XL with Ortho-McNeil’s epilepsy and migraine treatment, Topamax (topiramate), and Novartis’ Tegretol/Tegretol-XR (carbamazepine), used in the treatment of seizures, AstraZeneca said. The campaign’s efforts will include: • New fonts and colors in package labeling for Toprol-XL. • New monthly journal ads promoting awareness of the medication errors. • Ongoing direct-mail communications. • Updating of Toprol-XL’s professional and patient Web sites. • “Shelf-shouters” to remind doctors and pharmacists of the potential for confusion and the promotion of legible handwriting on prescription forms. Additionally, AstraZeneca’s sales force will be visiting physicians and pharmacists to personally deliver the message, the company said. “Our priority . . . is to ensure our products are administered appropriately and safely and we are working with the FDA to support this goal,” AstraZeneca US president and CEO Tony Zook said in a statement. The new awareness campaign follows on the heels of steps AstraZeneca took in September 2005 to alert health care professionals and consumers about prescribing errors including distribution of “Dear Health Care Professional” and “Dear Pharmacist” letters and the creation of a 1-800 number for further information.

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