A Toronto-area woman prescribed a new drug discovered by accident that it was unsafe to take because it interfered with medication she was already taking.
Yvette Perlov said she learned about the danger 31 days after Shoppers Drug Mart dispensed the prescription in Vaughan, where she lives.
“I was stunned,” said Perlov.
“I thought they would have a system in place that would flag negative interactions.”
Perlov takes what she describes as “cocktail” of medications following a heart attack. She said she depends on her pharmacist to make sure the drugs are compatible and safe.
Her cardiologist added a new drug to her regime called Ramipril. She found out a month of consuming the medication, and experiencing unusual fatigue, that it was not to be taken at the same time as Entresto, a drug she had been taking for a considerable length of time.
Shoppers Drug Mart confirmed in a statement to Global News “the drug interaction was not immediately identified at the time of dispensing.” While the company did not say what led to the mistake, it did state that its drug interaction software is updated on a monthly basis.
When asked about the situation, the Ontario College of Pharmacists said all pharmacists must follow rigorous standards when dispensing medication to patients.
“Pharmacists are expected to review each prescription for appropriateness for the specific patient including collecting and interpreting patient information to ensure there are no significant drug interactions,” said Todd Leach, spokesperson for the College, in a statement.
Since November, the College has been rolling out its Assurance and Improvement in Medication Safety (AIMS) program across Ontario. The program requires medication incidents be recorded into an independent third-party database “to better support shared learning and further promote quality improvement.”
Meanwhile, Perlov told Global News the incident has left her fearful about filling prescriptions.
“I took it for 31 days. I could have continued to take it, dropped dead in my home and nobody one would have known the better,” she said.
“They would have just thought ‘heart disease,’ not (that it was) induced by the drugs they prescribed.”
The organization representing pharmacists acknowledged they are key to making sure patients are dispensed medications that be safely taken.
“The pharmacist and a physician certainly have a responsibility to make sure they’re providing the safest and most effective therapy,” said Shelita Dattani with the Canadian Pharmacists Association.
Perlov said it “was a fluke” she learned about the drug mistake and only because she had returned to the pharmacy for an unrelated reason.
She said she contacted Shoppers Drug Mart by email and delivered a letter in person to the company’s president, but noted she got no response until Global News contacted the company.
Perlov said she would like to see the company give a full explanation for the mistake and she wants other pharmacy customers to be aware of the potential risks of drug contra-indications.
— With files from Alvin Yu