Pregnant Mom Got Abortion Drug in Pharmacy Screw Up


pillsIt goes without saying that there's never a good time to have a pharmacy screw up your medication. But a pregnant woman just became the victim of a colossal error. She went into her Colorado pharmacy for an antibiotic and ended up with an abortion drug instead.

Did you just cringe a little? OK, a lot? The story of Mareena Silva has been haunting me since I read about the Colorado mom-to-be who unwittingly took a medicine that could spell the end to her dream of being a mom. Taking medicine -- any medicine -- when you're pregnant is scary enough. Now we have to add this fear?

Methotrexate, the drug accidentally prescribed to Silva, can be used to end pregnancies. But by and large it's used for cancer patients. It's like a bazillion other drugs -- ever listen to the TV ads where they say "consult your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding"? -- not recommended for pregnant women but entirely useful for women who aren't pregnant. So let's throw the abortion issue out here.

This isn't about abortion drugs. It's about pharmacies and the need to be that much more careful than your average business to get things right. Because pharmacists are the front lines of health care. A doctor writes a prescription, but a pharmacist actually puts a drug in a patient's hands.

And like Mareena Silva, most of us just open the bottle and chuck it back. We have no way of knowing whether that little pill in there is the right one for us. How would we? We're good at what we do in our jobs. We expect a pharmacist to be good at what he or she does.

But it's hard not to feel a little bit of extra sympathy for Silva. Because she's pregnant! And I remember being extra dubious about taking in anything extra when I was pregnant. But I took antibiotics too. I had a sinus infection, and with all those swollen membranes (hello pregnancy!), I was a miserable wreck. Finally my OB/GYN convinced me I wasn't doing anyone any favors -- least of all my fetus. So I bit the bullet, hating myself the whole time.

The fact is, most medicines and their effect on pregnant women remain largely untested. Because what pregnant woman in her right mind is going to sign herself up for a clinical trial? No one wants to make their fetus into the guinea pig -- and rightfully so. But that leaves pregnant women wary of medicines that could (or could not) be good for their bodies in the long run.

Now add this fear -- that the pharmacist will screw up royally -- and you could be sitting like Silva wondering whether you'll have a healthy normal baby (still a possibility), whether you'll have a miscarriage (again, a possibility for her), or someone's mistake will cause severe fetal defects.

Do you worry about taking doctor-approved medicines while pregnant?


Image via Farm_Studio_Field/Flickr

is it safe, pregnancy health


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DebaLa DebaLa

Wait, is this about pharmacist mistakes or taking Rx drugs during pregnancy?

Lynette Lynette

deff about pharmacist error.  But also a warning to double check the label yourself before you take a new prescription to make sure it is what you are prescribed and it's your name on that bottle.

meatb... meatball77

That's horrible.  However it's a reminder to always know what medication you are taking and that you've gotten the right medication.  Reading the pamphlet that comes with the meds is also very important if it's new.

nonmember avatar michellec62604

I used to be a pharmacy tech before becoming a stay-at-home mom. This is definitely a HUGE error on the pharmacists part but also, we each have a responsiblility to look at the script (ask the dr to decipher it ;) ), know the name of the med we're supposed to be getting and check the script when we get the drug. Also, even dr's make mistakes, I was prescribed something while pregnant that pregnant woman can't take, and I "double checked" with the pharmacist that it was safe for me to take the drug and they said no. We have to be extrememly cautious when pregnant and yes this story is awful and yes the pharmacist needs to have some severe consequences and be held accountable, but if she would have mentioned to the pharmacist "hey I'm pregnant." I'm sure this mistake would not have been made. I'm really sorry she's going through this though :(

ILove... ILovemyPaulie

This error at the Pharmacy is the reason that Major well known Drug Stores include a safety pamphlet that tells you what the medication is for, what the pills should look like, how & who should & should Not take the Medication & the other precautions. All you have to do is READ. It is your body!!!

RanaA... RanaAurora

Pharmacists jobs are SO important. They also have to cross-check anything they give you against anything else you're taking to avoid complications (which is why you should get ALL prescriptions in ONE place if at all possible, so it's all immediately there on their screen).

I do agree that you need to look at what you're given before taking it.

PonyC... PonyChaser

"We have no way of knowing whether that little pill in there is the right one for us. How would we?"

As others have pointed out, your prescription should come with paperwork which describes the pill, including color, shape, and number that is imprinted on the pill.  When I was in Texas, the pharmacy I used down there (at Tom Thumb, maybe? I don't remember) even included a picture of the pill in that paperwork.

Check before you leave the pharmacy... even before you pay.  If that paperwork isn't there, it's entirely appropriate to ask your pharmacist about the drug you are getting and why the information isn't included.  A good pharmacist will spend as much time with you as you need.

nonmember avatar Jacl sayn

Did anyone see the girl's interview on CNN? She said after she took it and started feeling sick, she looked at the bottle and IT DIDN'T HAVE HER NAME ON IT. Not taking any blame off the pharmacist, but seriously - read the label on your prescription bottle before swallowing what's inside it.

daisy... daisygirl913

Our pharmacy tends to put on the bottle itself what the pill should look like in addition to it being on the paperwork. There are also plenty of resources out there to show you what the pill should look like. is just one of them.  Being pregnant I would be much more dilegent than normal to make sure I knew what the doctor was prescribing, for what, and then once I got the prescription from the phamacist checking an outside source to ensure it is the correct one. I know at times some of my meds have changed shape or color, sometimes there is a note on the bottle telling me, sometimes I look it up. Pharmacists are only human and could put the wrong pills in the wrong bottle. BUT for her to take something that didn't even have her name on it, the blame is entirely on her. Look before you swallow!

RanaA... RanaAurora

daisygirl, that information should be in every pamphlet that comes with the meds as well, but that website is a great resource!

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