Vincristine Side Effects Can Cause Paralysis. The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) issued a warning about the use of Vincristine (Generic: Oncovin), a potent cancer drug. Vincristine is supposed to be injected into a vein but is sometimes accidentally added to spinal catheters used for different drugs in leukemia and lymphoma patients. Administering Vincristine into the spine kills nerve cells, causing paralysis, and is usually fatal. Vincristine is sold in the United States under the names Oncovin and Vincasar.
Death Of A 49-year-old
JCAHO’s warning was sent to more than 4,500 hospitals. The Institute for Safe Medication Practices has received voluntary information from doctors about six U.S. cases in 30 years. However it is widely believed that more cases have existed but have gone unreported. The most recent known case involves the 2002 death of a 49-year-old New Jersey man while undergoing treatment for lymphoma. The JCAHO has advised hospitals to make sure Vincristine syringes are properly labeled with warnings that spinal injections are fatal, and that the drug is for intravenous use only. The alert also says that Vincristine also should be given to patients at different times and in different rooms than drugs administered through the spine.