FDA Warns of Brintellix, Brilinta Name Confusion

July 30, 2015

Two drugs with brand names that are too close for clinical comfort require special handling on the part of prescribers and pharmacists, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced today.

The drugs in question are the antidepressant vortioxetine (Brintellix, Takeda Pharmaceuticals USA) and ticagrelor (Brilinta, AstraZeneca), a platelet inhibitor used to lower the risk of dying after a heart attack or having another one. The FDA said it had received 50 reports as of June about brand name confusion that led to the wrong drug being prescribed or dispensed.

Some of the errors occurred when a computerized physician order entry system autopopulated or automatically presented both brand names as menu options after a clinician typed in the first three letters of either drug (they both begin with the same three letters). At that point, the clinician chose the wrong drug.

"None of the reports indicates that a patient ingested the wrong medication; however, reports of prescribing and dispensing errors continue," the agency said.

The FDA prescribes a cure for this confusion. When prescribing either medication, clinicians should include the generic name along with the brand name, and should spell out the indication.

It also helps to distinguish the two drugs physically. Ticagrelor is a round, yellow tablet stamped on one side with "90" above a "T." In contrast, vortioxetine is a tear-shaped tablet stamped with "TL" on one side and a tablet strength number on the other. The color of vortioxetine varies, depending on the strength.

More information on today's announcement is available on the FDA's website.

To report problems with vortioxetine and ticagrelor, contact MedWatch, the FDA's safety information and adverse event reporting program, by telephone at 1-800-FDA-1088; by fax at 1-800-FDA-0178; online at https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/medwatch/medwatch-online.htm; with postage-paid FDA form 3500, available at https://www.fda.gov/MedWatch/getforms.htm; or by mail to MedWatch, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, Maryland 20852-9787.


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