The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns against antidepressant and anti-blood clotting drug confusion, due to their similar names and tablets. While no victims have been recorded and patients hospitalized just yet, the FDA has received a number of 50 reports concerning prescription errors.
Every year, 100,000 people die only in the United States due to prescribed medication errors often done by pharmacists, who confuse one drug name to another. The number of instances when patients were hospitalized due to mistakes is even higher.
To avoid future disaster, the FDA placed out a warning toward doctors, pharmacists and patients alike to properly check the prescriptions and labels before recommending, giving or taking a drug. More precisely, the two medications Brintellix and Brilinta have been brought to people’s attention in order to avoid confusion and possible errors.
Brintellix (generic name is vortioxetine) is an anti-depressant sold by drug maker Takeda Pharmaceuticals, taken once a day in order to treat major depressive disorder (MDD) in adults. It has been approved by the FDA in September, 2013, and it consists of a yellow tear-shaped tablet with the letters “TL” on one side.
Brilinta (generic name is ticagrelor) is an antiplatelet, or more commonly knowing as an anti-blood clotting drug marketed by AstraZeneca, approved in 2011, with the purpose of preventing death after heart attacks, treating chest pain or preventing a second myocardio infarction. The blood thinner needs to be taken twice a day, and it coincidentally features a yellow round table with the letter “T” stamped on the side.
The confusion can easily be made if not enough attention is offered, and the FDA suggests that the generic name should be included on the labels or prescriptions, in addition to the brand name. While no patients reported to have ingested one instead of the other just yet, the number of reports has been gaining the agency’s concerns.
Generally, a division of the FDA, Division of Medication Error Prevention and Analysis, when presented with a new drug, they create a list of already existing medication that it might sound like and be confused with. They go through numerous names, take spelling into consideration, test how it would sound in different accents and see how it would look like when handwritten.
Yearly, the FDA rejects one third of the 400 proposed drug names, due to similarities to existing medications that might mislead doctors or patients and because it does not allow overly embellished names that will be difficult to remember.
There have been issues in the past with similarly sounding drugs and they now wish to avoid it, by warning of a problem before it even appears.
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