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Walgreens Mistakenly Replaced Prenatal Vitamins with Chemotherapy Drugs, Lawsuit Alleges

Friday, May 02, 2008 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: Walgreens, dangerous drugs, pharmacy

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(NewsTarget) A couple from St. Louis has filed a wrongful death and medical malpractice lawsuit against Walgreen Co. after Chanda Givens had her prescription for prenatal vitamins filled instead with a chemotherapy drug that caused her to miscarry.

Givens became pregnant in February and was given a prescription for prenatal vitamins under the brand name Materna in early March. According to the lawsuit, her prescription was instead filled with Matulane, a chemotherapy drug used to treat Hodgkin's disease. The drug functions by interfering with DNA development, cell growth and cell reproduction.

Soon after beginning the drug regimen, Givens began feeling nauseous and vomiting, but she assumed that she was just suffering from morning sickness. She miscarried in April. Because she hoped to become pregnant again, Givens continued taking the drug and phoned in for a refill when she ran out. At this point, the pharmacy discovered and informed her of the error.

The Givens' lawsuit accuses Walgreens of failing to properly supervise pharmacy staff, failing to check the prescription with Givens' doctor and failure to follow proper protocol.

Walgreens has, to date, refused to admit even that the prescription error occurred.

"We're just very sorry this miscarriage occurred," company spokesperson Carol Hively said.

"I think it has really taken an emotional toll on Chanda especially," said Dawn Mefford, the Givens' attorney. "She describes it as a nightmare."

Mefford also expressed concern over the Matulane's long-term effects on not only Givens' ability to have another child in the future, but also on her own health. An oncologist warned Givens that having taken the chemotherapy drug inappropriately may increase her risk of developing solid tumors, such as lung cancer, in the future.

"If true, this demonstrates part of what's wrong with our pharmaceutical-based medical system today," said consumer health advocate Mike Adams, founder of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (www.ConsumerWellness.org). "The very fact that toxic poisons like chemotherapy drugs are even considered medicine is nothing short of astonishing," Adams said.
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