Pharmacist discovers cancer patients received diluted chemo drugs

May 2, 2013 at 4:09 PM
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TORONTO, May 2 (UPI) -- More than 1,000 cancer patients across Ontario received diluted chemotherapy drugs, a pharmacy assistant at a hospital in the Canadian province discovered.

The woman and two other pharmacy assistants at Peterborough Regional Health Centre uncovered the problem when they received a shipment of chemotherapy drugs from a new supplier on March 20, the Toronto Sun reported.

The assistants compared the label of the new drugs with the one from their previous supplier, Medbuy, a bulk purchasing agent for the hospital, and discovered the chemotherapy drugs from Medbuy had been diluted.

"PRHC is very proud of these alert and dedicated staff and all of our health professionals who are continually focused on safe, excellent quality care," said Dr. Peter McLaughlin, the hospital's chief medical officer, testified Tuesday at a hearing for the investigation into the scandal.

Only one patient at PRHC was exposed to the diluted chemo drug, McLaughlin said. However, more than 1,000 cancer patients across Ontario received the watered down chemotherapy drugs, the newspaper said.

PRHC CEO Ken Tremblay said that the hospital has no say in how its drugs are procured for its patients, and that it will likely buy from Medbuy in the future.

"We are under incredible pressure as a healthcare system to make the tax dollars go further," he said.

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