A recent post on The Blotter, an ABC News Blog, reported yet another incident of pharmacy negligence in the wake of the report on "20/20" last month. This time, a seven year old Modesto, California boy was given an adult high blood pressure medication by a Walgreen’s pharmacy, instead of the medication he needed for a mental health condition. The boy ended up in the hospital and the boy’s mother was urged to report the incident. Not knowing where to turn, she called ABC News. The drug the boy was given, Toprol XL, is usually administered to adults with high blood pressure. The drug the boy was supposed to take was Tegretol-XR. Both drugs sound very similar and are apparently often confused, to the point that in 2005, the FDA issued a warning about the potential for confusing these two medications. In the case of the seven year old, Walgreen’s released a statement to ABC News, whereby it shifted some of the blame to the boy’s doctor for hand writing the prescription which was ultimately misread by the pharmacy.
You may recall in an earlier post, I discussed the "20/20" pharmacy errors investigation. The program found there were no federal regulations aimed at dealing with pharmacy errors, and only a few states require drugstores to report pharmacy errors. There are also no federal standards for pharmacy technicians, who can fill prescriptions and who can often be high school students with minimal training. All of this is alarming, frightening and dangerous for the American public.