Families Being Alerted to Breast Cancer Drug Mix-up at New Jersey CVS

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A New Jersey CVS pharmacy is alerting its customers to a potentially dangerous mix-up with fluoride prescriptions it fills for children. The pills may be tamoxifen, not fluoride. Tamoxifen is a leading drug treatment of breast cancer.

According to a local Fox News report, the CVS at Chatham, N.J., is alerting “dozens” of families who have fluoride prescriptions filled at the store for their children of the error. Prescriptions for fluoride tablets that could be tamoxifen instead were filled between Dec. 20, 2011, and Feb. 20.

Markings on the pills will be able to tell parents who are worried they’re giving their children breast cancer medication instead of fluoride. Both are small white pills with a round shape. They are about the same size. Tamoxifen is marked with an ‘M’ on one side and ‘274’ on the reverse. Fluoride tablets that should have been dispensed will be marked with ‘SCI’ on one side and ‘1007’ on the other.

Tamoxifen carries some serious risks of life-threatening side effects and children taking the drug could increase those risks as they are often more prone to severe drug side effects. There is no indication just how many prescriptions for fluoride were erroneously filled with tamoxifen.

CVS told Fox News that it has contacted or “left messages” with most families who’ve had fluoride prescriptions filled at the Chatham store since Dec. 20. It said in a statement that most of the families indicated they had the correct pills.

Mix-ups at pharmacies are not uncommon and even one slight error could be an indication that something else is wrong. A prescription filled with an incorrect number of pills, the report adds by citing a staff medical expert, could mean a pharmacist is consulting the wrong order when filling it. This could mean the bottle picked up at the store may also have the wrong pills. People should double-check their pills before taking any to guarantee their the correct ones.