Alert for Public Safety—FDA Reports Medication Error with Tamiflu

The FDA has recently published a patient safety alert, reporting medication dosage errors associated with Tamiflu, (for oral suspension), the top doctor prescribed anti-viral flu medication, administered to both adults and children. Our Maryland Pharmacy Misfill Injury Attorneys have been following this prescriber and pharmacy alert report, and how it could effect patient safety in this current H1N1 influenza pandemic.

According to the agency alert, the FDA has received reports that the Tamiflu (oral suspension) dosing instructions for the patient do not match the dosing dispenser. U.S. health providers often write liquid medicine prescriptions in teaspoons or milliliters (mL), while the dosage of Tamiflu is in milligrams (mg). Prescribers and pharmacists have been warned that Tamiflu’s dosing dispenser included in the package has markings only in mg—30, 45, and 60.

The alert recommends that:

• If the dosing dispenser included with the drug is in mg, prescribers should write doses in mg

• Pharmacists should also ensure that the unit measurements on the instructions of the prescriptions match the dosage dispenser included.

• If the prescription instructions specify that the drug is administered using mL, the dosing device should be replaced with a new measuring device and calibrated in mL.

Tamiflu (oseltamivir) is an antiviral drug that slows the spreading of the influenza virus in the body. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 22 million Americans have become ill with the H1N1 virus in the past six months, and 3,900 have died— 540 of which were pediatric deaths. The number of people who have been hospitalized is reportedly 98,000, with 36,000 patients younger than 17. The largest majority of deaths have been between the ages of 18 and 64—around 2,920.

Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported last week that six more people have died in Maryland in the past four weeks from the swine flu, bringing the total death toll to 19 since the pandemic began. The H1N1 virus has also hospitalized 664 people in Maryland.

The Los Angeles Times reported that in the last week of October, 587,960 prescriptions for Tamiflu and other antiviral drugs were filled in the United States— according to Wolters Kluwer Pharma Solutions of Bridgewater, N.J., the company that tracks FDA prescription data.

If you or someone you know has been injured by a medication mistake or pharmacy misfill in Maryland or the Washington, D.C. area, contact the attorneys at Lebowitz and Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation. Call us today at 1-800-654-1949.

FDA Public Health Alert: Potential Medication Errors with Tamiflu for Oral Suspension

New CDC Estimates Show What Toll Swine Flu is Taking in U.S., Wasington Post, November 13, 2009
Booster Shots: Swine Flu Continues Slow Climb on College Campuses, The Los Angeles Times, November 13, 2009
Swine Flu Kills 6 More People in Maryland: All Had Underlying Conditions, Baltimore Sun, November 13, 2009

Related Web Resources:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration, (FDA)

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