Tips: How to Pronounce a Difficult Drug Name Without Choking, Aspirating, Dying

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Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“The” FDA) approved the efficacious and unpronounceable idarucizumab (also known, thankfully, as Praxbind) to reverse the anticoagulant effects of Pradaxa in emergencies.  That got us to thinking: Sure, Praxbind is catchy and all, but how does one pronounce its generic name, or any other complicated drug name for that matter, without choking, aspirating, and dying?

Never say the name of a new drug in-front of a patient
Never say the name of a new drug in front of a patient

Determine your code status.

Pronouncing these new drug names is no easy feat.  In the same way airplanes always go through safety protocols prior to departure, so too must you review your code status before pronouncing any new drug.  Before you know it, an unexpected “dazole” or “fenac” could lead to an aspiration event, hypoxemic respiratory failure, and, ultimately, death.  Be smart.  Be safe.  Determine that code status before you start.

Have an endotracheal tube ready.

It’s never a bad idea to learn the new drug in the presence of an EMT, respiratory therapist, pulmonary specialist, anesthesiology, or emergency room provider.  At the very least let someone know you’re about to pronounce a brand-new drug in case of a worst-case scenario and be sure to tell your family and friends that you love them.  If a drug name’s fifteenth syllable sends your tongue the wrong way, you want the right person by your side to secure your airway, assuming you’re a full code (see above).  GomerBlog tip: Learning how to self-intubate is a very useful skill here.

Hire a vocal coach.

Even the most accomplished opera singers will be the first to admit that even they cannot pronounce drug names.  So do what the pros do: hire a coach.  Instead of singing “do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do!” you’ll learn to sing the more vocally taxing “mab-zolam-vir-tinib-olol-gliptin-afil-bicin-mab!”  Now who wouldn’t want to sing that all day in the shower?!

Do your tongue and throat exercises.

Tongue and throat exercises has been shown to be helpful regarding the conservative management of obstructive sleep apnea, so why not with learning new drug names?  Exercises (to be done in repetition) include chewing gum; sliding your tongue along the soft palate from back to front; and placing your tongue between your teeth and swallowing.  Ideally, you should do these exercises for thirty minutes a day for three months before learning to pronounce a new drug name.  You’ll be thankful you did and you might even sleep better too.

Practice your high-value Scrabble letter sounds.

Screw the As, Es, Is, Os, and Us.  What’s the first thing we all say when we pronounce a complicated drug name?  That’s right: “I’d like to buy a vowel, please.”  Well, ignore your inner Pat Sajak and instead think of those Js, Ks, Qs, Ws, Xs, Ys, and Zs.  Recite the sounds of each letter one thousand times per day.  Be those letters.  Play Scrabble without vowels.

Practice making sounds no human has ever made before.

According to an anonymous pharmaceutical representative, drug companies come up with names by sitting around a table, making sounds no human has ever made before, and then linking a bunch of those sounds together into something that is polysyllabic and ludicrous.  Case and point: idarucizumab.  You might think learning to pronounce “qxjwtb” or “kwphzk” is crazy, but you never know; there could be a new antibiotic just round the corner with those very sounds.

Wear a diaper.

It is not uncommon that the task of learning these drug names leads to healthcare practitioners losing all bodily function: urinating, defecating, and even ejaculating at will.  Save yourself the embarrassment by being smart and investing in a solid pair of adult diapers.  GomerBlog tip: We prefer Dry Care ConfiDry 24/7 adult diapers since these are suited for heavy incontinence, though be warned that these bad boys are bulky.

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  • Dr. 99

    First there was Dr. 01, the first robot physician, created to withstand toxic levels of burnout in an increasingly mechanistic and impossibly demanding healthcare field. Dr. 99 builds upon the advances of its ninety-eight predecessors by phasing out all human emotion, innovation, and creativity completely, and focusing solely on pre-programmed protocols and volume-based productivity. In its spare time, Dr. 99 enjoys writing for Gomerblog and listening to Taylor Swift.

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