Some doctors and pharmacies have confused two different drugs with similar-sounding names, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned. The agency said that it has 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.
The FDA says there have been reports of medication errors since Brintellix’s approval in 2013. The two drugs have some similarities in appearance; the letter T is stamped on both tablets and in some cases both are yellow. Consumers should be aware of a few differences. Brintellix is a tear-shaped tablet stamped with the letters “TL” whereas Brilinta is a round, yellow tablet stamped with “T 90”.
To prevent confusion, the FDA is advising physicians to write out the generic name of the medications and the condition it is prescribed to treat. The generic name for Brintellix 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 medication errors, including 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.