Kids in as many as 50 families in Chatham, New Jersey were mistakenly given breast cancer medication instead of chewable fluoride tablets. While the fluoride the children were supposed to receive is used to prevent tooth decay, the pill Tamoxifen blocks the production of estrogen. CVS has alerted all the families and apologized, but no one can figure out exactly how this happened.
On the plus side, any kids who did take Tamoxifen before realizing the error are probably in the clear.
"Fortunately, it's very unlikely that this specific drug would cause any serious or adverse effects when used for only a short periods of time," said Daniel Hussar, a professor with the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy at the University of the Sciences.
And kids who did try to chew the breast cancer pills — which unlike fluoride tablets, aren't flavored — likely spit them out or accused their parents of trying to poison them. Either way, CVS Caremark director of public relations Mike DeAngelis says most families warned about the possible mix-up did not get the wrong pills.
CVS is, of course, investigating the error, but so far there is no explanation. According to Hussar, events like these are rare but important learning tools to prevent future mistakes — which may be a small comfort to parents who gave their kids the wrong drugs. On the other hand, those kids were lucky enough to get a drug that probably didn't do a lot of damage in the long run. Parents would likely be less forgiving if their precious angels had been popping Oxycontin.