That’s what happened to one 19-year-old pregnant woman from Ft. Lupton, Colorado. A terrible pharmacy mistake may cost her pregnancy, or leave her unborn child with birth defects.
At six weeks pregnant, Mareena Silva went to her local Safeway to pick up antibiotics her doctor prescribed. Instead, the pharmacy mistakenly gave her the drug, methotrexate, which is a powerful medicine used to treat life-threatening cancer and it is also used in early stage abortions.
Methotrexate is an effective abortion drug because it stops embryonic cells from dividing and multiplying. According to the National Institutes of Health, methotrexate also fights cancers that develop around the fertilized egg in the uterus. Methotrexate is well known to induce miscarriage and cause birth defects.
Mareena Silva took the medicine unknowingly, assuming she was taking the antibiotic for her bacterial infection. She started to get nauseous, so she checked the label on the prescription bottle. She discovered that she was given someone else’s medicine – the methotrexate was meant for a 59-year-old woman who had the same last name and similar first name.
The 19-year-old immediately called her doctor, who told her to try to throw up. Mareena was then rushed to the hospital, where she was given charcoal to absorb the methotrexate.
At only six weeks pregnant, the risk of miscarriage was high. Six weeks pregnant is a critical time in fetal development – your baby’s ears, mouth, nose, arms, and legs are starting to form. The baby’s intestines are forming, as well as his pituitary gland. Your baby’s brain is also developing. The methotrexate could interfere with any of these major developments.
Mareena has not miscarried yet, but she’s far from being able to relax. Her doctors are watching her carefully. She could still suffer a miscarriage – (plus, most miscarriages occur within the first 13 weeks of pregnancy). If her baby survives, there’s a 50-50 chance that he or she could end up with facial abnormalities, neurological problems, and birth defects.
Safeway, the grocery store chain made the medication mix-up, released an official statement that said: “We have extended our sincere apologies to the customer, and offered to pay any medical expenses incurred as a result of a prescription error.”
(Um . . . what medical expenses will she have if she miscarries? And will they pay for the years of hardship if her baby ends up with birth defects?)
According to ABC News, these drug mix-ups happen, but they’re rare. The president of the Institute for Safe Medicine Practice suggests that 26 to 30 deaths in recent years have been due to methotrexate dosage errors.
Do you think the apology is enough? Or do you think Mareena and her family should sue Safeway for the prescription mix-up?
How many of you read the prescription bottle before you take any medication? Do you just open the bottle and take the pills?
I always read my prescription bottles first, and I usually don’t pay attention to the name of the medication – since genetic drugs can substitute what my doctor had prescribed. I always read the side effects carefully, though. But that’s me.