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Pharmacy Mistake Switches Breast Cancer Meds and Fluoride Tablets

Countless children are prescribed chewable fluoride tablets to help prevent tooth decay every year. A product mix-up at a pharmacy in New Jersey led to several children receiving the drug Tamoxifen, a breast cancer treatment, rather than the fluoride pills they had been prescribed. The error may have affected up to 50 families over nearly three months' time. CVS Caremark acknowledged the mistake, but has not explained how such a mistake could occur or why it went undetected for so long. Fortunately, at least one pharmaceutical expert is on record saying that it is unlikely that the ingestion of Tamoxifen would cause adverse health effects in the children who accidentally took the drug.

The pharmacy released a statement expressing its apologies for the mistake. While no injuries have been reported, it is still not clear how the pharmacy confused breast cancer medication for chewable fluoride tablets. Investigators for the pharmacy are still studying the situation to find out how the error occurred and, presumably, how to prevent similar errors in the future.

Mistakes by pharmacists and technicians are potentially fatal. Whether a drug is given with improper instructions, the wrong dosage is given, or, as in this case, the wrong drug is dispensed, the recipient faces a significant risk of injury or death. As the second largest pharmacy chain in the U.S., CVS Caremark is in a powerful position to affect patient health and wellbeing. Hopefully they can determine what allowed this mistake to occur so they can correct it in the future.

Source: The Daily Mail, "Blundering pharmacy gave children breast cancer drugs instead of anti-tooth decay medicine," 5 March 2012

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