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CVS Probe Finds Prescription Errors

Feb 9, 2006 | AP

A state investigation of CVS pharmacies confirmed dozens of prescription errors since 2002, including one that sent a 4-year-old girl to the hospital, officials said Thursday.

Other problems identified during onsite inspections included look-alike medications being stocked next to each other, improperly labeled inventory and a poor ratio of pharmacists to support personnel.

None of the 62 verified errors or other problems were fatal, said Jean Pontikas, director of the Department of Public Health Division of Health Professions Licensure.

Under an agreement between CVS and the state Board of Pharmacy, the nonprofit Institute of Safe Medication Practices will monitor the 309 Massachusetts CVS stores with pharmacies for two years and could then recommend improvements.

"All in all, we do think there is safe medication dispensing in Massachusetts. However, there are always opportunities to make things better" Pontikas said.

The Board of Pharmacy began investigating CVS pharmacies in June after receiving dozens of consumer complaints.

The problems occurred since 2002, a period when CVS stores filled about 85 million prescriptions in the state, a CVS representative said.

One case involved a 4-year-old Brockton girl who was hospitalized and hooked up to a heart monitor after her mother was given the wrong medication by a CVS pharmacist in July.

Cyira Gillard was supposed to be taking Clonidine for her hyperactive behavior, but received another man's prescription for Flecainide, which is used to treat irregular heartbeats.

CVS said it will implement new safeguards including signs and consumer handouts on avoiding prescription mistakes.

"The health and safety of our customers is our highest priority," said CVS vice president Papatya Tankut.

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