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Don't Confuse Brintellix with Brilinta, FDA Warns

Aug 4, 2015

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning that some doctors and pharmacies are mixing up two drugs with similar names but different uses: Brintellix and Brilinta. Brintellix is an antidepressant sold by Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Astra Zeneca's Brilinta is a blood thinner prescribed to patients who have had a heart attack or severe chest pain. The FDA said it received 50 reports of medication errors; there were 12 instances where doctors prescribed the wrong drug or the pharmacy dispensed the incorrect medication. The agency is not aware of any cases where the wrong drug was taken.

Brintellix was approved in 2013. Since then, the FDA says, it has been receiving reports of medication errors. There are also similarities in how the two drugs look. The letter T is stamped on both drugs and sometimes both are yellow.

In order to reduce the chance of error, the FDA is advising physicians to write out the generic name of the medications and the ailment being treated. Brintellix's generic name is vortioxetine and Brilinta is also known as ticagrelor. According to CBS, Brilinta was approved in 2011; second-quarter sales in the US totaled $101 million. Takeda says Brintellix garnered $42 in revenue in its latest quarter.

The FDA made recommendations for patients to help prevent confusion over the similar-sounding drug names. Recommendations include checking the prescription to make sure the correct medication was dispensed, reading the name on the bottle, examining the tablet, knowing what the medication is for and asking a healthcare professional if something appears incorrect or unexpected.

There are some notable differences between Brintellix and Brilinta that patients should be aware of; Brintellix is a tear-shaped tablet stamped with the letters "TL" whereas Brilinta is a round, yellow tablet stamped with "T 90".

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