On July 30, 2015, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a strong caution for people to be aware of two drugs with very similar names. This FDA warning follows reports of doctors and pharmacies confusing the names of prescription drugs Brintellix, an antidepressant, and Brilinta, a blood-thinning medication. The agency says it has been receiving these reports since Brintellix was approved in 2013. Both drugs are tablets with the letter T stamped on them, and in some cases, both are yellow.
The FDA has posted these tips for patients to help ensure that they don’t mistakenly take the wrong medicine:
- Look at the name on the bottle.
- Check your prescription to ensure that the correct medication was dispensed.
- Inspect the appearance of the tablet.
- Know why you are taking it.
- Ask questions to your health care professional if the name on the prescription, description of the medicine’s use, or appearance of the medication is different from what you expect.
While both drugs come in tablet form and occasionally have the same color, there are differences to watch out for:
BRINTELLIX: Tear Shaped – Pink, Yellow, Orange or Red – TL Stamp
BRILINTA: Round – Yellow – T-90 Stamp
As of June 2015, FDA has received 50 reports of medication error cases involving brand name confusion between Brintellix and Brilinta, including 12 cases where doctors prescribed the wrong drug or pharmacies dispensed the wrong one.
Most of the cases reported concerns that similarities in the sound, look, or both sound and look of the two brand names could cause confusion for prescribers and pharmacists. The FDA is urging patients and health care professionals to report name confusion and medication errors involving Brintellix and Brilinta to the FDA MedWatch program.