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New Jersey CVS mixed up cancer meds with kids’ fluoride

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TRENTON, N.J. >> CVS officials say only a few children ingested pills for breast cancer treatment that they mistakenly received from a New Jersey pharmacy instead of the fluoride pills that were prescribed.

No injuries related to the mixup had been reported as of Saturday afternoon. The two pills are similar looking but have distinctively different tastes.

Investigators are still working to determine how and why the errors occurred at the CVS pharmacy in Chatham. The pharmacy has acknowledged improperly dispensing the breast cancer-fighting drug Tamoxifen instead of chewable fluoride tablets to children in as many as 50 families between Dec. 1 and Feb. 20.

Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay and is usually prescribed by dentists for children. Tamoxifen is used to treat breast cancer and blocks the female hormone estrogen.

CVS Caremark said in a statement that it is “deeply sorry for the mistake that occurred” at its Chatham, N.J. pharmacy. The company did not explain how the mistake happened.

Mike DeAngelis, CVS’s director of public relations, said in a statement that the company had contacted or left messages for every family whose child was dispensed a 0.5 mg fluoride prescription in the previous 60 days. He says that “most of the families we have spoken to did not indicate that their children received any incorrect pills.”

“The health and safety of our customers is our highest priority and we are deeply sorry for the mistake that occurred,” DeAngelis’ said.

He said the company would continue to follow up with families who believe their children may have ingested incorrect medication.

“We are actively investigating this matter to determine how the mistake occurred in order to take corrective actions to prevent this from happening again,” DeAngelis said.

CVS Caremark, based in Woonsocket, R.I., runs the second-largest chain of drugstores in the U.S., after Walgreen.

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