Johnson & Johnson says that its Alzheimer’s disease drug, Reminyl (galantamine), will now be marketed in the US under the new product name of Razadyne in a bid to avoid any confusion with Sanofi-Aventis’ Amaryl (glimepiride), which is approved for the treatment of diabetes.

The firm says it has been working closely with the US Food and Drug Administration since learning of several reports or prescribing and dispensing errors between the two similar sounding drugs. The accidental administration of Amaryl to patients with Alzheimer’s disease who did not have diabetes resulted in serious events, including severe hypoglycemia and – in two cases – death, J&J said.

“Our top priority is to ensure the well-being of our patients,” Joseph Hulihan, vice president of medical affairs at J&J’s Ortho-McNeil subsidiary said in a statement. “Through ongoing discussions with the FDA, we agreed that the best way to avoid future dispensing errors was to change the name of Reminyl, which came onto the market nearly six years after Amaryl.”

The company also said that the extended-release formulation of Reminyl – known as Razadyne ER – would be available in US pharmacies from the middle of May.