Local Pharmacy Mistake Kills 21 Polo Horses

In a widely publicized pharmacy error from earlier this year that our Maryland Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyers followed, 21 elite horses tragically died after a pharmacy incorrectly prepared the medication given to the horses.

According to reports, 21 of the 25 horses of the Venezuelan polo team were allegedly given an a drug mixed to replicate the name-brand supplement Biodyl—a concoction of vitamins and minerals often used to treat muscle fatigue in horses. Biodyl is reportedly used safely around the world, but hasn’t been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for this country.

The drug concoction was prepared by Franck’s Pharmacy Compounding Lab in Ocala, and the mixture allegedly contained a strength of an ingredient that was incorrect—making the horses sick and causing their tragic death at the International Polo Club of Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida. Only the horses treated with the medication mistake became sick and died within hours of treatment, after collapsing, as they were unloaded from their trailers where they were scheduled to play in the U.S. Polo Open.

Fox News reported that veterinarians commonly turn to compounding pharmacies for medications that aren’t readily available on pharmacy shelves. The Lechuza polo team said in a statement that a Florida-based veterinarian wrote a prescription for the pharmacy to create a compound similar to Biodyl, after using the manufactured version of the drug for many years without problems.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, pharmacy compounding is defined as the process of producing a drug that has the necessary medication ingredients to meet an individual patient’s needs medically. Compounding labs specialize in producing medications that are not commercially available, as well as creating medications for patients who need different forms and dosages than they can find commercially. Any licensed pharmacist can compound drugs, but a doctor’s prescription is required.

Patients who seek compounded drugs are often allergic to inactive ingredients in FDA-approved medicines. According to the FDA, compounded drugs are not reviewed by the FDA for safety or effectiveness. Franck’s is regulated by the Florida Department of Health, along with other compounding labs in the state—and is required to keep detailed records of each medication batch it produces.

The FDA had strong interest in this case, as these deaths were caused by a medical mistake at the pharmacy—the same pharmacy that produces drugs for humans. Drug compounding has been criticized for lack of oversight, and patients, either human or animal, can sometimes be given medication that has not been tested—resulting in the potential for personal injury or even in this case death.

It was not clear how closely the pharmacy’s mixture was to Biodyl—but the Lechuza polo team had hoped for a supplement that contained vitamin B, magnesium, potassium, and selenium, which can be deadly in high doses. After an investigation, pathologists and toxicologists reportedly found high levels of selenium in the horses. The pharmacy publicly admitted to the mistake, and said that after an internal investigation, they found that the strength of the ingredient in the medication was not correct for the horses.

If you or a loved one have been harmed by a medication mistake in Maryland or Washington, D.C., contact our experienced attorneys at Lebowitz and Mzhen, LLC for a free consultation. We are dedicated to making sure that victims and their families receive the personal injury compensation they deserve.

2009 Top News Countdown: No. 5: Local Pharmacy mistake Leaves 21 Polo Horses Dead, Ocala.com, December 26, 2009
Polo Horse Deaths Put Focus on Custom Made Meds, Ocala.com, April 30, 2009
Vet Grief-Stricken Over Death of 21 Polo Horses, NBC Sports, April 25, 2009
Pharmacy Admits Mistake in Polo Pony Meds, ABC News, April 23, 2009

Related Web Resources:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Medication Error Reports

National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention, (NCCMERP)

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