Hot Docs: Woman sues CVS over mixed up drug names in bad prescriptions

September 22, 2011

CVS-Confuse Vital Spellings?Affect and effect.

Eminent and imminent.

Prospective and perspective.

Kapidex and Casodex.

These words can be easily confused, but most of the time the mistake is only grammatical.

When a pharmacy mixes up the last two, though, it’s a different story.

Such an error is the subject of a recently-filed lawsuit.

Bridgette Barry, a Georgia woman, is suing CVS Pharmacy and the pharmacists who filled her prescriptions incorrectly.

Hot Doc: Barry v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc.

Source: Thomson Reuters News & Insight – National Litigation

As remarked earlier, the pharmacy was supposed to fill Barry’s prescription from her gastroenterologist for Kapidex, a drug designed to treat acid reflux.

Instead, on several occasions, the pharmacy filled her prescription with the drug Casodex, a drug for treating prostate cancer.

Since Casodex is obviously designed exclusively for men, one would think that it wouldn’t sit well with women (the FDA states that only men should take it, and that, if taken by pregnant women, it can cause abnormalities in the fetus).

After becoming seriously ill and being hospitalized because of taking Casodex, Barry discovered this fact firsthand.

When Barry was discharged from her in-patient rehabilitation five months later, CVS made the same mistake, giving Barry Casodex instead of Kapidex for three months (which, of course, led to further injury and infections).

Apparently, though, pharmacists beyond CVS seem to have trouble telling the two drugs apart: Takeda, the drug’s manufacturer, renamed the drug “Dexilant” in 2010 after widespread reports of dispensing errors (involving both Casodex and Kadian, an extended-release morphine drug).

At first, it may appear that this fact could complicate the professional malpractice claims against the individual CVS pharmacists in the complaint in that so many other pharmacists made the same mistake, but this information shouldn’t make a bit of difference.

Seriously, would a pharmacist’s confusing two similar sounding drugs that have very different uses and side effects ever be acceptable?

A pharmacist’s job regularly requires more attention to detail than that.

They consistently have to consider possible conflicts between medications and safe dosage amounts.

If it’s somehow acceptable to mistake Casodex for Kapidex, would it similarly be acceptable to mistake 5 milligrams for 50 milligrams?  I somehow doubt it.

Although CVS would also be responsible for the pharmacists’ negligence via respondeat superior, the complaint alleges that CVS was particularly careless in training its pharmacists.

As proof, the complaint cites a September 2007 public consent order from the Georgia State Board of Pharmacy that publicly reprimanded and assessed a fine of $75,000 against CVS.

As part of that same order, CVS was required to better train its pharmacists in the proper filling of prescriptions.

The complaint offers CVS’s failure to properly fill Barry’s prescriptions as evidence of its failure to implement the mandated training of its pharmacists.

Why bring this up?

Such a failure could constitute the kind of reckless conduct that would entitle Barry to punitive damages under Georgia law.

Because there really should be no question that negligence has occurred in regards to the mis-filled prescriptions, CVS’s biggest fight will be against the punitive damages, which could amount to more than all other damages combined.

For the six CVS pharmacists sued, their fight will be showing they didn’t have a part in incorrectly filling Barry’s prescriptions, since, absent some considerably mitigating factors, the acts plainly constitute negligence.

As for the rest of us, we just have to hope that our pharmacists can spell better than Barry’s pharmacists.