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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
Attorney • (877) 377-7848

Prescription Errors are Tough to Swallow

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A New Jersey CVS Pharmacy mistakenly gave as many as fifty children Tamoxifen, a powerful cancer fighting medication, instead of the prescribed fluoride tablets. Although some children ingested the cancer pills, no injures have been reported. Unfortunately, these are not isolated cases with an isolated pharmacy; mistakes like this happen every day.

Hundreds of prescriptions are filled daily in a typical chain drugstore and everyone is in a hurry; patients are grabbing their bag and dashing out the door. Nearly half of Americans do not check their prescriptions to make sure they are correct. Some will just start swallow the pills without confirming the medication or reading the instructions and side affects.

Doctors prescribe a specific medication for a specific condition, and we count on the pharmacist to be accurate in filling that prescription. Pharmacists are supposed to review each technicians work, but due to understaffing some may forget to double-check. Illegible doctor handwriting or abbreviating drug names may lead to a pharmacist guessing and thereby filling the wrong drug. With so many generic medications available, the shape and color of pills may not be a reliable guide to confirm the right medication was received. Pharmacies frequently change manufacturers, so tablets may have a different appearance from one refill to the next. Additionally, many drugs look alike or sound alike. What happens when the pharmacist gives you the wrong dosage or the wrong medication? Damage may include short-term or long-term medical expenses, disabilities, pain and suffering, even death.

What can consumers do?

  • Know what drug is being prescribed and why it is being prescribed. Asking the doctor to write the purpose of the drug on the prescription can act as a safety check for you and the pharmacist.
  • Know the correct spelling of the drug you should be taking. Have your doctor spell it and write it down yourself, clearly and legibly.
  • Know the instructions. How often will you take the medication and what is the dosage? What are the side effects?
  • Provide a list of all medications, including OTC drugs to your doctor to avoid any drug interactions.
  • Fill all your prescriptions at the same pharmacy so that all of your records are in one place.
  • When picking up your prescription, compare the label to the information you received from the doctor.
  • Know the medication. If you are picking up the drug for the first time, search on the Internet for the name of the drug and information imprinted on the pill. The photo of the medication online should match the medication you have in your possession. If you are picking up a refill, compare the pills in the new bottle to any remaining in the previous bottle. Look at the color, shape, and imprint on both sides on the pills (name of manufacturer and number). The new and old pills should be identical. If the drug looks different or the directions have changed, ask the pharmacist and/or your doctor.

Most importantly, don't assume anything. The extra time to ensure you received the correct medication may avoid complications and quite possibly save your life. If you want to be extra vigilant, here are two websites that can help you identify pills: http://healthtools.aarp.org/pill-identifier and http://www.rxlist.com/pill-identification-tool/article.htm. If you believe your pharmacy has made a mistake, you can file a complaint with the Board of Pharmacy in your state.

Mark Bello has thirty-five years experience as a trial lawyer and thirteen years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by a plaintiff involved in pending, personal injury, litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Member of Public Justice and Public Citizen, Business Associate of the Florida, Mississippi, Connecticut, Texas, and Tennessee Associations for Justice, and Consumers Attorneys of California, member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

Sources: ABC News: "CVS Gives Kids Cancer Drugs by Mistake," March 4, 2012; U.S. Food and Drug Administration; http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm143553.htm, August 12, 2011

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    Fluoridation started in 1945 in Grand Rapids Michigan. The very first drop was illegal and millions of gallons later nothing has changed. NaF, Na2SiF6, and H2SiF6 have never been approved by the FDA for internal ingestion intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease in man or other animals; and … intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of man or other animals. Furthermore, all fluoride vitamins, drops and pills would fall into this catagory.
    The entire chain, from the manufacturer, shippers, middlemen, distributers, pharmacies, doctors, dentists, cities, mayors, city boards, commissioners private and public water distributers and all personal, and the National Sanitation Foundation are liable for criminal charges and direct action by the Food and Drug Administration at any time.
    Potentially, all food manufactured using fluoridated water could be exposed to the same liabilities.
    Why has the FDA failed to act on the issue of unapproved fluoridation drugs? The FDA is ignoring the law. FDA’s actions are contrary to law, arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion. The plain language of the law says an article that appears to be misbranded or unapproved shall be in violation. The FDA should notify immediately anyone in possession of foreign or demostic-manufactured fluoridation chemicals/drugs that its use is prohibited by law and that the drug must be returned to the FDA. It is unlawful to import or introduce into interstate commerce any unapproved drug. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration should seize supplies because they are illegal or because of questions over how they were manufactured. The FDA is undermining its own policy of maintaining a closed drug distribution system designed to keep dangerous drugs out of U.S. Commerce. Opening up the ‘closed’ drug system by allowing an unapproved drug, the FDA is jeopardizing their own system and threatens the public health by creating a risk that could cause harm the general public.

    The FDA has long taken the position that consumers are exposed to a number of risks when they are exposed to unapproved drugs because,they may be expired, subpotent, contaminated or counterfeit product, the wrong or a contraindicated product, an incorrect dose, or medication unaccompanied by adequate directions for use.

    The FDA’s decision not to act on enforcing the removal of unapproved drugs or to initiate enforcement proceedings against a violator is a decision to ignore an administrative directive.

    NaF, Na2SiF6, and H2SiF6 are both a “drug” and an unapproved “new drug” under the FDCA
    Imported NaF, Na2SiF6, and H2SiF6 are misbranded under the FDCA
    Imported NaF, Na2SiF6, and H2SiF6 adulterated under the FDCA
    The FDCA prohibits the importation of any misbranded drug, adulterated drug or unapproved drug The FDCA mandates that FDA deny admission to any misbranded drug, adulterated drug or unapproved new drug into the United States.
    The FDA has consistently maintained that no one ‘” not even state governments ‘” may lawfully import unapproved new drugs.
    The FDA’s procedures prohibit the commercial importation of unapproved new drugs and controlled substances.
    The FDA’ actions allowing states to import unapproved, misbranded, and or adulterated drugs violates the administrative procedure act.
    The FDA’s unlawful behavior directly injures plaintiffs.

    Falsely marketing unapproved prescription drugs as being eligible for reimbursement by Medicaid, Medicare and other government health care programs
    fluoride drops and vitamins are NOT “safe and effective” the FDA says.
    Their marketing status is “unapproved drug other”. The FDA also says,
    “NOTE:THIS DRUG HAS NOT BEEN FOUND BY FDA TO BE SAFE AND EFFECTIVE, AND THIS LABELING HAS NOT BEEN APPROVED BY FDA.”

    Boca Pharmacal, Inc.]
    http://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?id=46584

    PureTek Corporation
    http://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?id=45239

    Qualitest Pharmaceuticals
    http://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/archives/fdaDrugInfo.cfm?archiveid=27766

    Cispharma, Inc
    http://www.drugs.com/pro/multivit-with-fluoride-chewable-tablets.html

    These are a few, but I also went to FDA’s Orange Book and searched for sodium fluoride. “Search by Active Ingredient:” – http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cder/ob/docs/queryai.cfm

    Orange Book: Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations

    No matching records found. Use your browser’s “Back” button to go back and enter new search criteria.

    It appears that there is no sodium fluoride drug that has EVER been tested or been proven to be “safe and effective” .

    The same is true for ALL fluoridation drugs

    It’s appalling that a company would sell drugs for use by children, adolescents and others when those drugs hadn’t been tested for safety or effectiveness. Doctors trusted that these drugs had been approved.