March 12, 2013

CVS to Pay $650,000 and Establish Safety Procedures Following Prescription Errors in New Jersey

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs has announced that it has reached a deal with CVS-Caremark regarding several incidents involving commingled prescription medications.

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Under the agreement, CVS will contribute $650,000 to go toward establishing programs regarding prescription drug safety and abuse. The incidents took place over a four month period, from December 2011 to March 24, 2012, in five different New Jersey CVS pharmacies.

The first incident involved a CVS in Chatham, where on at least 15 separate occasions a breast cancer treatment drug was mixed in with prescriptions for children’s chewable fluoride. Apparently, both the medications looked similar, in that they were both small white pills, but were stamped with different identification information.

You read that right, a breast cancer treatment drug, was mixed up with children's chewable flouride. In other words, what amounts to something comparable to a vitamin was confused with a potentially dangerous substance. Tamoxifen is a cancer-fighting drug that interferes with estrogen. It is used in the treatment for both patients fighting metastatic breast cancer, and those believed to be at risk for developing breast cancer.

Following the investigation of the initial mix ups, authorities eventually discovered several similar incidents involving the co-mingling of prescription pills at other CVS locations. These included:

  • metoprolol, used to treat high blood pressure, was commingled with risperidone, a schizophrenia medication
  • pravastatin, a cholesterol drug, was incorrectly given instead of metformin, a diabetes medication
  • Coreg, a blood pressure drug, was prescribed at 20 milligrams per tablet, but the patient received 80 milligram tablets of Coreg four times the correct dosage as well as the correct concentration
  • approximately 30 prescriptions from an automated filling machine were filled incorrectly when cholesterol pills were mixed with blood pressure pills

In response to these incidents, it is reported that CVS contacted all of the potentially affected patients, and informed them what measures to take. It also took measures to correct the manner in which the mistakes were made, and notified the Division of Consumer Affairs and the State Board of Pharmacy.

As part of the settlement, in addition to the payment, CVS will take other preventative measures, which include producing pamphlets for public information, providing information regarding pills on its website, and various training programs for its pharmacy staff.

The details of this agreement illustrate the point that it is critical to always review your prescriptions. Individuals should always double check both that you have received the correct medication, and in the correct dosage or concentration. Chances are good that if you are being prescribed a medication, rather than taking an over the counter medication, whatever the drug is can have a major impact on your health.

Pharmacists are human, and do occasionally make mistakes. But these mistakes can lead to injury, and in some cases even death. Administering an incorrect medication altogether could implicate allergies or drug incompatibilities, leading to potentially deadly, if not inconvenient, side effects. This is especially true in cases where individuals are in need of maintenance drugs, such as with high blood pressure or diabetes. The incorrect medication could lead to a trip to the emergency room, or worse.

The hardworking attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen have experience in representing victims of medication errors in Maryland who have been harmed by taking the wrong medications. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of taking the improper medication, contact us today through to schedule your free initial consultation in order to discuss your case. You can reach us through our website, or by calling (800) 654-1949.


Additional Blog Posts:

Surgical Never Events Occur at Least 4,000 a Year, Study Finds, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, published March 5, 2013

Serious Safety Concerns Regarding Compounding Pharmacies Reveal Recurring Bacterial Outbreaks, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, published February 27, 2013