Warning on Alzheimer drug mix up

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Janssen Pharmaceutica, manufacturer of the Alzheimer drug galantamine (Reminyl), says it has learned of 10 cases in which individuals who should have gotten Reminyl accidentally received the diabetes drug glimepiride (Amaryl).

The mistakes apparently occurred because the trade names Reminyl and Amaryl are somewhat similar.

Amaryl reduces blood sugar, a potentially serious effect in those who are not diabetic and do not have higher-than-normal blood sugar levels. Two individuals who mistakenly received Amaryl died.

Reminyl and Amaryl do not look alike. While Reminyl tablets are round, Amaryl has an unusual oblong shape that looks like two circles pushed together, with a flattened surface where they join. Each Amaryl tablet is stamped "Amaryl." Each Reminyl tablet is stamped with a capital "G" for galantamine and a 4, 8, or 12 noting the strength in milligrams.

The shapes and colors of the different strengths of Reminyl and Amaryl are shown in the pictures above.

The potential confusion does not apply to any of the other approved Alzheimer drugs: tacrine (Cognex), donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon) or memantine (Namenda).

If you have any questions about whether you are taking the right medication, please contact your doctor as soon as possible.

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