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Confusion with similarly named drugs causes drug error

| Aug 12, 2015 | Anesthesia & Medication Errors


As useful as medications and prescription drugs can be to people in Newton, there is still a danger that the wrong drug can harm a person or even lead to a fatality. Many people associate a medical mistake to an anesthesia error. What they may not consider is that prescription medication errors can be just as, if not more, dangerous than a mistake with anesthesia. Being aware of the possibility of the wrong drug being administered must be considered if there is an unexplained illness or reaction to medications that should have been safe for a patient to take.

Recently, confusion has resulted with pharmacies and medical professionals regarding two different drugs with a similar sounding name. The Food and Drug Administration has issued a press release about this problem and its potential dangers. According to the FDA, there have not been any patients who have reported taking the wrong drug, but has had at least 50 reports of the drugs being mixed up. These two drugs are Brintellix and Brilinta. The former is an antidepressant. The latter is a blood-thinner that is utilized to treat people suffering from chest pain, prevent patients from dying after a heart attack or stop them from having another heart attack.

The reports began coming in to the FDA in September 2013. The FDA has a division to avoid these kinds of mistakes due to similar names that could easily be mistook for the other. Many different factors go into whether or not the agency will suggest that a name change be made including pronunciation, spelling and how the names will appear when a prescription is handwritten. Warnings about drug names and potential mistakes because of them are considered to be rare.

Although it has yet to be asserted that the confusion regarding these two medications has caused injuries or death, this information is only now coming to light. It’s possible that there were people or loved ones who suffered side effects without knowing they took the wrong medicine. Since the two drugs are made to treat different issues, someone taking the wrong medicine can be severely harmed. Those who have taken a dangerous combination of prescriptions for any reason from a negligent pharmacist to a doctor’s mistake to a misleading name need to understand their legal rights.

Source: ABC News, “Brilinta? Brintellix? FDA Warns of Drug Name Mix-Ups,” Marley Jay, July 30, 2015


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