Morphine Mix-Up

March 22, 2012 by staff 

Morphine Mix-Up, The company at the centre of a nationwide drug shortage is facing a new public relations crisis over a morphine mixup that had hospitals across the country pulling vials of drugs from pharmacy shelves Thursday.

The latest problem for Sandoz Canada Inc., occurred Wednesday after a Toronto hospital discovered a box labelled as containing morphine also contained vials of a different, adrenalin-like drug called isoproterenol hydrochloride, which is used in heart surgeries and cardiac arrests.

Health Canada called for an urgent quarantine of any supply of products from the affected lots. The quarantine involves 5,700 boxes of morphine sold to Canadian hospitals starting earlier this month.

On Thursday, tests results from Sandoz’s lab confirmed the vials in the mislabelled package were labelled properly, meaning the drugs were not switched.

But it’s not known what still needs to happen before the quarantine is lifted.

At a hastily called news conference Wednesday night, B.C. Health Minister Mike de Jong called the latest mishap a “troubling complication.”

“We are advised, based on the preliminary investigations, that the ampoules themselves are clearly labelled with the correct information and it is the boxes that have been mislabelled,” he said.

“We are not aware, nor has Health Canada alerted us to any other mislabelled products that have been packaged in this way. I do want to offer this reassurance that while we are, and I am providing this information (Wednesday night), we have not been made aware of any adverse events up until this point as a result of the mislabelling, nor have we even heard reports that health professionals in British Columbia have discovered any incorrectly packaged medication in any of the shipments that have been received here in B.C.”

A Health Canada spokesman said there have been no reports of adverse reactions and that the drugs in the mislabelled package were not used.

Isoproterenol hydrochloride is a stimulant that mimics the action of adrenalin, and is used in cases of cardiac arrest until emergency defibrillation or pacemaker therapy can be deployed.

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