Look Out for Oral Contraceptives With Similar Names or Packaging

You play a key role in preventing product selection errors with oral contraceptives (OCs).

These meds can be prone to error because of look-alike/sound-alike names...similar-coloured packaging...and common manufacturers.

Revisit strategies for ensuring your patient gets the right oral contraceptive. Dispensing the wrong one may lead to side effects, such as bleeding or nausea...or even pregnancy.

Read incoming Rxs closely. For example, it can be easy to mistake Min-Ovral for Mirvala...Seasonique for Seasonale...or Minestrin for Marvelon.

Take care when substituting with generic oral contraceptives...many generics have "brand-like" names that can cause confusion.

For instance, Marvelon has generics Apri, Freya, and Mirvala...each from a different manufacturer.

To help identify products with the same hormone content, see our chart, Comparison of Oral Contraceptives...and check with your pharmacist if you're unsure which one to dispense.

Use bar-code scanning to confirm you have the intended med.

For instance, Alysena 28 and Alesse 28 each come in green stock boxes...and Marvelon 28 and Linessa 28 both come in blue-and-white stock boxes.

Pay extra attention when pulling or restocking similar-looking OCs...and use shelf tags or stickers to alert staff to potential mix-ups.

But don't place stickers over key info on products. Covering up "Plus" in Yaz Plus could lead to someone mistaking the med for Yaz...which doesn't contain folic acid.

Dig into our updated tech tutorial, Dispensing Oral Contraceptives, for tips on days' supply, labelling, and more.

Key References

  • ISMP Med Safety Alert! Community/Ambul Care 2020;19(4):1-4
  • J Obstet Gynaecol Can 2008;30(11):1050-62
Pharmacy Technician's Letter Canada. October 2020, No. 361032

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