After five New Jersey CVS locations were found to have commingled prescription drugs in 2012, the state Division of Consumer Affairs and CVS-Caremark reached an agreement in 2013. Due to the seriousness of this issue, whereby children and adults received the wrong medication from five New Jersey pharmacy locations, CVS agreed to pay $650,000 to the state of New Jersey for a public awareness campaign about prescription drug use. Furthermore, CVS agreed to retrain all of its pharmacy staff on proper procedures.
The Specifics of These CVS Pharmacy Prescription Scares
Several children at a Chatham CVS pharmacy received the wrong drug, and this matter became public as 15 parents were very concerned and reported the problem. The pills that were mixed together at this store were both white, round pills that were similar in size; however, one pill was a children’s chewable fluoride prescription and the other was a breast cancer drug: tamoxifen. The pill’s differences include:
- The fluoride pills contained the numbers “1007” and letters “SCI.”
- The breast cancer drug had the letter “M” stamped on it and numbers “274.”
After this matter went public, CVS came forward with four other New Jersey pharmacies that gave consumers the wrong medication, including:
- CVS in Scotch Plains admitted to filling approximately 30 prescriptions from an automated filling machine for the cholesterol drug atorvastatin; however, the pills were commingled with losartan, a blood pressure drug.
- CVS in Cherry Hill had three customers complain of receiving commingled drugs: schizophrenia drug risperidone with high blood pressure drug metoprolol.
- CVS in Budd Lake gave a customer cholesterol drug pravastatin instead of diabetes drug metformin.
- A CVS in Rahway filled the wrong dosage of a blood pressure drug at 20 mg instead of 80 mg.
Why Did These Pharmacy Errors Occur?
It appears that the wrong drugs were given to customers because pills were commingled due to pharmacy employees ignoring procedures about returning unclaimed prescriptions to the pharmacy’s stock. According to CVS, “unclaimed prescriptions should not be returned to stock bottles at all.” However, it appears that employees poured unclaimed medications back into the pharmacy’s stock bottles for some of these incidents to have occurred.
Other pharmacy errors occurred because the bins for the automated filling machines were loaded with pills that had been improperly mixed, according to a statement. Since then, CVS stopped the use of the machines until all specialists were retrained. CVS also developed safer procedures that pertain to the automated filling machines.
Although CVS is now participating in assurance reviews and posting color images on their website of what pills should look like, medication mistakes can still occur at any pharmacy nationwide. For this reason, patients should always check their medication. If you have been harmed by a CVS pharmacy error, please call the pharmacy malpractice attorneys at Kennedy Hodges at 888-526-7616 for a free consultation, and also request a free copy of our report, How to Make Pharmacies Pay for Your Injuries Caused by Medication Errors.