Name confusion with Zyprexa (olanzapine) and Zyrtec (cetirizine HCl) may lead to medication errors
February 10, 2005
The FDA and Eli Lilly are warning clinicians of errors in medication prescribing and dispensing when the brand names (Zyprexa, Zyrtec) for these products were confused for each other. Zyprexa has been mistaken for Zyrtec, and vice versa, leading to adverse events and increased disease symptoms. Cetirizine is an antihistamine indicated for allergic rhinitis or chronic urticaria, while olanzapine is an atypical antipsychotic indicated for schizophrenia or bipolar I disorder.
The dosing ranges, dosage sizes, dosing intervals, and appearance are also similar for the two drugs. Several strategies are recommended to reduce the risk of confusing these two products:
- Pharmacies - Store the medications in separate places in the pharmacy.
- Prescribers - Write both the brand and generic names on all prescriptions.
- Pharmacy staff - Verify the brand and generic names with the prescriber whenever possible.
Additional information is available online at the following links:
- MedWatch Alert:
- Dear Healthcare Professional letter:
February 10, 2005; University of Utah, Drug Information Service. Copyright 2009, Drug Information Service, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT.