Healthcare News & Insights

Pharmacy refills patient’s meds at 10x dose — for nearly a year

A Phoenix woman suffered crippling esophageal spasms for months after a pharmacy repeatedly filled her medication at 10 times the prescribed dose. Larina Helsom twice questioned the pharmacy when the pills looked different — once when the pharmacy substituted a generic and again when the manufacturer changed. But she never noticed the change in dosage.

Helsom said she suffered painful episodes for months which led to hospitalizations, but her doctors could not explain the cause. Helsom feared she would eventually die from the strange condition she was battling.

Eventually, it was discovered that Helsom’s 5 mcg dose had been filled repeatedly with 50 mcg. Helsom’s exact medication wasn’t named, but a pharmacy spokesman said that the 50 mcg dose was within therapeutic guidelines, so it didn’t trigger any red flags as an inappropriate dose.

The pharmacy, part of the Walgreens chain, has offered an apology, but wouldn’t say if any employees have been disciplined for the on-going error.

The Arizona State Pharmacy Board is investigating the incident to determine if negligence played a role.

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