Man sues pharmacy for negligence after prescription refill causes illness

April 20, 1994|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Sun Staff Writer

When he ordered a prescription refill in July, Earl Hadden assumed the pills dispensed by the Rite Aid pharmacy in Westminster were the heart medication he had been taking on the advice of his doctor.

What was in the bottle, however, was not what the doctor ordered, Mr. Hadden says in $300,000 negligence suit that he filed against the pharmacy last week in Carroll County Circuit Court.

Instead of a refill of Procardia XL -- the drug Mr. Hadden had been taking -- a pharmacist at the Rite Aid in the 140 Village Shopping Center filled a bottle with chlorpromazine hydrochloride, medication that is used to sedate schizophrenics, the seven-count suit alleges.

When Mr. Hadden, 59, took one of the pills on July 5, in a bottle clearly marked "Procardia XL, he became seriously and grievously ill," the suit claims.

Mr. Hadden was sent to a hospi- tal emergency room with symptoms that included slurred speech and lapses of consciousness. He was admitted to the hospital for four days.

"He really thought he was going to die," said his lawyer, E. Suzan Miller. "His wife was very frightened for him."

Doctors released him on July 9 and told him to continue taking the heart medication. The next day, he took another pill from the Rite Aid bottle, and, the suit says, he "again required emergency medical treatment."

Mr. Hadden's doctors discovered the prescription mix-up during that hospital visit, Ms. Miller said, and Mr. Hadden was treated and released.

The lawsuit claims that Rite Aid should not have given Mr. Hadden the chlorpromazine hydrochloride. It claims that Rite Aid

"had knowledge of the defective prescription refill and nevertheless marketed it to . . . Earl Hadden with deliberate and conscious disregard of harm."

Wanda Patrick, director of public relations at Rite Aid's Harrisburg, Pa., corporate headquarters, did not return phone calls seeking comment on the suit.

Chlorpromazine hydrochloride is a drug that was introduced in the 1950s to treat schizophrenia and other mental disorders. Some side effects include brain damage, liver damage, blood-cell disorders as well as blurred vision, dry mouth, drowsiness and, in rare cases, coma and death, according to the Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs.

Ms. Miller said that Mr. Hadden, a laborer at a food company, and his wife, Joyce, filed the lawsuit only as a last resort. She said the couple had tried to reach a settlement with the pharmacy.

"These are very good, decent, hard-working people who have never been in courtroom before," the lawyer said. "They are not ones to rush out and file suit."

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