The Food and Drug Administration is warning health- care professionals and consumers about prescribing and dispensing errors between two drugs with similar names.
The errors have occurred between Zyprexa, an antipsychotic drug made by Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY) and Zyrtec, an antihistamine made by Pfizer Inc., (PFE) used to treat allergies.
In a letter sent to health-care professionals that was posted Tuesday on the FDA’s Web site, Eli Lilly said it had received reports of the drugs incorrectly being given to consumers.
“These reports include instances where Zyprexa was incorrectly dispensed for Zyrtec and vice versa, leading to various adverse events in some instances,” the letter said. “These errors could result in unnecessary adverse events or potential relapse in patients suffering from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.”
Eli Lilly said it would make changes to the label for the 10 milligram bottle of Zyprexa in order to reduce the potential for medication errors and conduct an advertising campaign directed at health-care professionals.
While the drugs are obviously for different uses, Eli Lilly noted that the drugs’ names are similar and are usually stored close together on pharmacy shelves. The drugs also are both taken once daily and share some of the same dose strengths including the 5- and 10-milligram tablets.
Zyprexa 2.5-milligram, 5-milligram, 7.5-milligram and 10-milligram tablets are white and round and imprinted in blue ink with “Lilly” and the tablet number. The 15-milligram tablets are elliptical and blue.
Zyrtec 5- and 10-milligram tablets are white, film-coated and are rectangular shaped with rounded off corners. They are engraved with “Zyrtec” on one side and the dose strength on the other.