Friday, June 29, 2007

Patients survive drug mistake

From the Waterloo (Ont.) Record:
Six people who were sent to hospital this week after a Waterloo pharmacist over-prescribed their methadone treatment were lucky to have survived, say experts who specialize in the drug.

Overdosing on methadone -- a narcotic drug used to treat opiate addicts and severe pain sufferers -- can be fatal. In this case, the six who started showing signs of overdose Monday after taking their prescription from University Pharmacy on King Street in Waterloo were treated at hospital and released. Although the store's pharmacist declined to comment yesterday, police say the patients were immediately contacted and advised to go to hospital once the pharmacist realized the error.

Detectives decided charges will not be laid in the case, said police representative Olaf Heinzel.

The six suffered minor physical complaints, mostly discomfort, police said, before receiving treatment to counteract the overdose.

Dr. Nathan Frank, director of the Kitchener methadone clinic, which treats some 400 patients, said there is not much room for error when dealing with methadone, and the dangers are more pronounced with people whose bodies have not yet developed a tolerance for it. ...more

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