UPDATE: 13 Families Affected by CVS Pill Mix-Up
Distribution of breast cancer treatment pills with children's fluoride tablets blamed on a 'restocking issue.'
CVS Pharmacy said the mixing of Tamoxifen with children's fluoride tablets in its Main Street location was caused by "a single medication restocking issue."
Michael DeAngelis, the director of public relations for CVS out of its Rhode Island corporate headquarters, wrote in a statement to Chatham Patch that 13 patients contacted by CVS out of about 50 found Tamoxifen tablets mixed in with children's fluoride pills.
The problem was brought to the company's attention, the statement reads, by "a vigilant parent who contacted us on Feb. 20."
"We removed the one stock bottle that we believe to be the source of this issue," the statement continues.
DeAngelis also wrote CVS "is cooperating" with an order from the state Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) to provide all documentation and communications regarding the improper dispensation of Tamoxifen.
The order, signed Friday by DCA Director Thomas R. Calcagni, gives CVS until Friday to turn over records of complaints from parents, notifications to customers and policy manuals that address how the pharmacy handles prescription drugs by Wednesday. Also, any employee with knowledge of the incident must appear before him and submit to questions under oath on Friday.
CVS must also turn over "all reported instances of the commingling of prescription medications in CVS stores" in New Jersey over the past year.
"CVS has admitted mistakenly dispensing breast cancer medication in lieu of fluoride tablets intended for children," Cagliani said in a statement. "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 DCA first learned the Chatham CVS mixed 20-miligram tablets of Tamoxifen, a medication for breast cancer, with 0.5-miligram fluoride pills for children from an article on Chatham Patch published Thursday afternoon.
The fluoride pills have the letters "SCI" stamped on one side and the numbers "1007" stamped on the reverse. The Tamoxifen pills have the letter "M" stamped on one side and the numbers "274" on the reverse.
Both pills are round, white and about the same size.
"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," Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said in a statement.
"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," he said.