February 9, 2011 / 2:14 AM / 8 years ago

Colorado pharmacy mistake puts woman's pregnancy at risk

DENVER (Reuters) - A Safeway Inc. pharmacist mistakenly sold a pregnant Colorado woman a powerful anti-cancer drug that may cause birth defects or miscarriages, the grocery chain said on Tuesday.

Mareena Silva was six weeks pregnant when she went to a Safeway pharmacy in Fort Lupton, Colorado, last week to pick up a prescription for an antibiotic.

Instead, the 19-year-old woman was sold the drug methotrexate that was intended for a 59-year-old patient with a similar name.

Safeway issued a written statement apologizing for the mix-up and offered to pay Silva “any medical expenses incurred as a result of the prescription error.”

“We understand the anxiety this has caused and the difficulty of Ms. Silva’s situation,” the statement said.

Silva told Denver TV station KDVR she became nauseous after taking the drug, and after checking the prescription bottle realized she was given the wrong medication.

She was hospitalized and given charcoal to absorb the drug, and was released. So far she is still pregnant with her first child, she said.

Methotrexate is used to treat certain types of cancer, but also can cause pregnant women to miscarry or cause birth defects, according to the National Institutes of Health web site.

The drug has “very serious side effects” and is only prescribed after other drugs are ineffective.

Pleasanton, California-based Safeway said its pharmacist failed to follow company policy that requires workers to verify a person’s name and birth date and get verbal confirmation before a person is allowed to retrieve a call-in prescription.

“Had that procedure been followed, this regrettable error could have been avoided,” the statement said.

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