NJ CVS mixed up cancer meds with kids’ fluoride

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A CVS pharmacy in northeastern New Jersey mistakenly distributed pills for the treatment of breast cancer to children instead of the fluoride pills that were prescribed, company and state officials said Friday.

CVS Caremark said in a statement that it is “deeply sorry for the mistake that occurred” at its Chatham, N.J. pharmacy. The company did not explain how the mistake happened. There has been no report of injury.

New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said in an administrative order Friday that the pharmacy acknowledged that it improperly dispensed the breast cancer fighting drug Tamoxifen instead chewable fluoride tablets to children in as many as 50 families between Dec. 1, 2011 and Feb. 20.

Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay and is usually prescribed by dentists for children. Tamoxifen is used to treat breast cancer in men and women and blocks the female hormone estrogen.

Mike DeAngelis, CVS’s director of public relations, said in a statement that the company had contacted or left messages for every family whose child was dispensed a 0.5 mg fluoride prescription in the previous 60 days. He says that “most of the families we have spoken to did not indicate that their children received any incorrect pills.”

“The health and safety of our customers is our highest priority and we are deeply sorry for the mistake that occurred ... ,” DeAngelis’ said.

He said the company would continue to follow up with families who believe their children may have ingested incorrect medication.

“We are actively investigating this matter to determine how the mistake occurred in order to take corrective actions to prevent this from happening again,” DeAngelis said.

CVS Caremark, based in Woonsocket, R.I., runs the second-largest chain of drugstores in the U.S., after Walgreen.

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