Effexor Recall Issued Due to Possible Pill Mix-Up

Pfizer is recalling 104,000 bottles of the antidepressant Effexor, after at least one bottle was found to contain a Tikosyn pill, which is a medication prescribed for the treatment of heart arrhythmia.  

The Effexor recall was announced on March 7, indicating that some users may face a risk of serious and potentially life-threatening side effects if they take Tikosyn (dofetilide) without a prescription, because there may be contraindications or drug interactions. In addition, users could face issues associated with missing a dose of the popular antidepressant.

Tikosyn could potential cause an abnormal heartbeat called Torsade de Pointes, which can be fatal. Patients who believe they may have accidentally consumed Tikosyn instead of Effexor have been directed to contact their doctor immediately. They should also watch for symptoms of heart rhythm problems, including:

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Side effects of using the antidepressant during pregnancy may cause birth defects and malformations.

  • Feeling faint
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid heartbeat

The recall affects one lot of bottles of 30-count Effexor XR (venlafaxine HCI) 150 mg extended-release capsules, one lot of bottles of 90-count Effexor XR (venlafaxine HCI) 150 mg extended-release capsules, and one lot of generic venlafaxine HCI 150 mg extended-release capsules sold in 90-count bottles under the Greenstone LLC label. The lot numbers for the Effexor tablest are V130142 and V130140, which both expire in October 2015. The lot number for the Greenstone pills is V130014. They have an expiration date of August 2015.

The manufacturer requests that pharmacists immediately quarantine, discontinue distribution of and return all of the affected products. They should also notify any customers who purchased products from the affected lots. Patients with bottles affected by the recall are advised to notify their physician and return the recalled pills to their pharmacy.

Effexor belongs to a class of antidepressants known as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), which are very similar to the more popular selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Zoloft. SNRIs are known to have many of the same side effects as SSRIs.

Pfizer currently faces a number of product liability lawsuits over Effexor brought by parents who claim that their children were born with birth defects from Effexor exposure during pregnancy.

In August 2013, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) consolidated all Effexor birth defect lawsuits filed in federal courts nationwide as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation. The cases are centralized before U.S. District Court Judge Cynthia M. Rufe in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for coordinated management during discovery and pretrial proceedings.


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