CVS Prescription Mix-Up Under Investigation

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – The state attorney general’s office has begun a preliminary investigation into a CVS pharmacy’s mistaken distribution of pills for the treatment of breast cancer to children. The popular pharmacy in Chatham, NJ, mixed up children’s fluoride pills with the breast cancer drug Tamoxifen.

The attorney general’s consumer affairs division on Friday ordered the pharmacy to explain the mistake and provide the names of all its employees, along with all emails, telephone calls, complaints, and other information related to the mix-up.

The pharmacy must provide the information by Wednesday, and company representatives must appear before division officials for questioning under oath, an order signed by division director Thomas R. Calcagni said.

“To mix that up for children who are obviously grade-school age, that’s pretty scary,” one person told CBS 2’s Emily Smith on Friday.

Meanwhile,popular insurance provider CVS Caremark said in a statement that it was “deeply sorry for the mistake that occurred” at its pharmacy, although the company did not explain how the mistake happened. There has been no report of injury.

Calcagni’s administrative order said that the pharmacy acknowledged it improperly dispensed the breast cancer fighting drug instead of chewable fluoride tablets to children in as many as 50 families between Dec. 1, 2011, and Feb. 20. Calcagni said in the order that the division wants to look into whether any laws were violated.

Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay and is usually prescribed by dentists for children. Tamoxifen is used to treat breast cancer in men and women and blocks the female hormone estrogen.

Mike DeAngelis, CVS’s director of public relations, said in a statement that the company had contacted or left messages for every family whose child was dispensed a 0.5 mg fluoride prescription in the previous 60 days. He said that “most of the families we have spoken to did not indicate that their children received any incorrect pills.”

“The health and safety of our customers is our highest priority, and we are deeply sorry for the mistake that occurred,” DeAngelis said.

He said that the company would continue to follow up with families who believe their children may have ingested incorrect medication.

Pharmacist Alan Brown, from Liberty Pharmacy in Chatham, said he blames the mistake on CVS being too busy. Brown said it’s partly due to a misleading insurance card from CVS Caremark.

“I think people are led to believe they must go to CVS,” Brown said. “That’s not true. They can go to any pharmacy.”

“We are actively investigating this matter to determine how the mistake occurred in order to take corrective actions to prevent this from happening again,” DeAngelis said.

If a child has taken one Tamoxifen pill, it’s not going to have a negative impact on their health. It’s highly unlikely a child would even be able to consume multiple pills, due to the strong taste.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • Rugbyball

    Every 3 months I get an email from a CVS one town over saying my prescription is ready for pick up, It is a laundry list of medications that I know I dont take.
    I call the store all the time and get told it must have been a mix up in the records for when they merged the systems from Duane Reade which they bought out a year or so ago. I think they merged the records incorrectly. They have not to this day fixed the issue and I still get the email. I just hope this other fella is getting his meds. Because of this mix up I do not trust CVS, they could have my record all mixed up as well and who knows what could happen, so I stick to my local pharmacist and when I need a chain store I go to Walgreens if I can find one.

    • Sick of You People

      Walgreens bought out Duane Reade so I’m not sure what your getting at saying CVS merged your records together.

      Also it shouldn’t be hard to find a Walgreens, its the biggest chain in the country.

  • les

    That’s what you get for having 17 year old “assistants” working behind the counters. YOU ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!

    • Sick of You People

      I’ve worked behind a pharmacy counter since I was 17 and I would like to think all of the pharmacists I’ve worked for would say that I’m a thorough as any other worker.

      I’m sure your the same person who doesn’t have a job, sits home doing nothing, and blames it on *insert a politician here*.

    • J

      Wow you think just because someone is young, they are incompetent? I guess by your logic you want everyone behind the counter to be in their 80s.

    • William

      100% right!!!!!!

  • nyscof

    Few parents realize that giving their children the drug fluoride, even when dispensed correctly, puts their children at increased risk of developing dental fluorosis – white spotted, yellow, brown and/or pitted teeth – now afflicting 41% of adolescents, according to the US Centers for Disease Control.

    To make matters worse, modern science indicates that ingesting fluoride does not reduce tooth decay. Fluoride hardens outer enamel by topical means alone.

    Other adverse health effects of fluoride are here: http://www.FluorideAction.Net/health

  • Mad Dad....

    Heads need to roll for this one…. This is unacceptable….period!!

    • Sick of You People

      I’m a little shocked that it happened, I keep searching articles to see if they give more details. Unless Tamoxifen was in a auto dispensing robot in place of fluoride by accident, I can’t see how they let it happen to over 60 prescriptions. I just can’t see a tech grabbing the wrong bottle 60 times in a row.

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