New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs Orders CVS Pharmacy in Chatham to Provide Information Under Oath, Documentation About Practices and Safeguards Related to Reported Improper Dispensing of Pills
NEWARK - Moving with alacrity on a matter of public health and safety, the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs today issued an Order of the Director requiring CVS officials to provide information under oath, including extensive documentation, about a recent incident in which the CVS pharmacy in Chatham reportedly mixed breast cancer medication in with prescription fluoride tablets meant for children in as many as 50 families, potentially over the course of several weeks.
"We have taken immediate action to determine how many families may have been impacted by this potentially dangerous situation and how we can best address this with the pharmacy to identify those families and prevent any harm to children going forward," said Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa. "We want to get the word out to the public so that we can reach any residents in the area who may have been given the wrong pills."
The Order, signed today by Thomas R. Calcagni, Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs, requires that the corporate holder of the Controlled Dangerous Substances registration for the CVS pharmacy in Chatham, and all other persons with knowledge of the reported incident, appear before him and submit to an inquiry under oath on Friday, March 9, 2012.
The Order further requires that CVS representatives provide certified copies of all communications, complaints, and information pertaining to the incident, including internal communications between the pharmacy and corporate headquarters, investigative documents, and records of corrective actions taken after the incident. The company also is ordered to provide copies of all original prescriptions dispensed for Tamoxifen or 0.5 mg fluoride from December 1, 2011 through March 1, 2012, inventory receipts for both drugs delivered to the pharmacy between those dates, and other documents important to the Division's inquiry.
"When pharmacy customers receive medications other than those prescribed, especially for their children, the public has a clear expectation that regulatory authorities will act quickly to ascertain the facts and the scope of any lapses that may have occurred," said Director Calcagni. "CVS has admitted mistakenly dispensing breast cancer medication in lieu of fluoride tablets intended for children. Public safety implications compel an examination of the safety controls in place, not just for these drugs but for all others including those classified as Controlled Dangerous Substances."
The Division of Consumer Affairs recently reorganized its Enforcement Bureau to be more proactive in its mission to seek out and stop prescription drug abuse and diversion, including inspecting pharmacies to ensure appropriate safeguards are in place. Director Calcagni noted that the Division's Enforcement Bureau, Pharmacy Inspection Section, is investigating this matter.
Parents who believe their child may have ingested the wrong medication are urged to immediately call their child's physician. Concerns about the improper use of medication can also be referred to the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System at 1-800-222-1222. For emergencies, dial 911.
Director Calcagni urged any consumers who believe they were affected by the activities of the CVS in Chatham to call the Division of Consumer Affairs' Consumer Service Center hotline, 800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.
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