Bril­inta? Brin­tel­lix? FDA warns of mix-ups with drug names

The China Post - - LIFE - BY MAR­LEY JAY

The U.S. Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion said Thurs­day that some doc­tors and phar­ma­cies are get­ting con­fused by the sim­i­lar names of an an­tide­pres­sant and a blood-thin­ning medicine.

The FDA says it’s not aware of any pa­tients who took the wrong drug, but the agency says it has re­ceived 50 re­ports of med­i­ca­tion er­rors, in­clud­ing cases where doc­tors pre­scribed the wrong drug or phar­ma­cies dis­pensed the wrong one. The two med­i­ca­tions are Brin­tel­lix, an an­tide­pres­sant, and Bril­inta, a blood-thin­ning med­i­ca­tion used to pre­vent death af­ter a heart at­tack or se­vere chest pain or to pre­vent a sec­ond heart at­tack.

The agency says it has been re­ceiv­ing re­ports of er­rors since Brin­tel­lix was ap­proved in Septem­ber 2013. Both drugs are tablets with the let­ter T stamped on them, and in some cases, both are yel­low.

The agency is sug­gest­ing doc­tors write out the generic name of the drug and the ail­ment for which it’s be­ing pre­scribed. Brin­tel­lix, an an­tide­pres­sant taken once a day, is also known as vor­tiox­e­tine. It’s sold in the U.S. by Ja­panese drug­maker Takeda Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, which re­ported US$42 mil­lion in rev­enue from Brin­tel­lix in its latest quar­ter.

Bril­inta, a blood thin­ner taken twice per day, is also called tica­grelor. It was ap­proved in 2011, and maker As­traZeneca PLC said sec­ond-quar­ter U.S. sales of the drug to­taled US$101 mil­lion.

Com­pa­nies pro­pose names for their own drugs be­fore they are ap­proved. Those names are re­viewed by the FDA’s Di­vi­sion of Med­i­ca­tion Er­ror Preven­tion and Anal­y­sis, or DMEPA, which com­pares the name to drugs that are on the mar­ket and those still un­der FDA re­view.

The of­fice cre­ates a list of names that could be con­fused with the name of the pro­posed drug. It con­sid­ers fac­tors in­clud­ing the spell­ing of the new drug, the way it will be pro­nounced by peo­ple with dif­fer­ent ac­cents, and how the name will look when it’s writ­ten by hand. The agency uses a va­ri­ety of hand­writ­ing sam­ples to see if the name of the new drug might look like a dif­fer­ent drug in cer­tain peo­ples’ hand­writ­ing.

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