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New Jersey Man Hospitalized After Rite Aid Pharmacy Mistake

May 7th, 2014

There’s a very big difference between an anti-inflammatory drug and an antipsychotic, and when a patient is prescribed one and receives the other by mistake, nothing good is going to come out of it. In the case of John Penrose of Franklin Township, New Jersey, that very mistake made by a Rite Aid pharmacist put him in the hospital, clinging to life. As a result, the victim filed a lawsuit in New Jersey’s state Superior Court.

Penrose had been prescribed the drug Clinoril by his physician for treatment of a work injury in which he had sustained broken toes.  Clinoril is a nonteroidal anti-inflammatory drug that is used for treating pain, and the minor injury had been causing him discomfort, so he dropped off the prescription at his local Rite Aid Pharmacy and picked it up about a week later. But when he started taking the pills and followed the dosing medications that were on the bottle, things started happening quickly. According to Penrose, he “had an almost immediate reaction.” He was taken to nearby Warren Hospital and immediately admitted to the intensive care unit, where staff put him on life support. Penrose has indicated that he remembers nothing after having taken the pills, saying, “I was out of it, almost comatose.”

Later it was determined that the Rite Aid pharmacist, Rashid Naveed, had filled the prescription bottle with a drug called Clozapine, which is used to treat schizophrenia. Though the drug is effective for the use of psychotic disorders, its use is generally reserved for patients for whom other medications do not work because of the risk of serious side effects.  Even for patients who are prescribed Clozapine, the drug is generally introduced very slowly and methodically in order to minimize negative impacts, and in one out of five people taking the medication dizziness results, sometimes due to orthostatic hypotension that can result in cardiac and respiratory arrest.

Pharmacy mistakes, both those that occur within hospitals and those that occur in neighborhood drug stores, are very much on the rise. Though in this particular case the mistake was made by a pharmacist, in many instances prescriptions are actually being typed up, entered into the computer or filled by pharmacy technicians. These employees often have as little as two hours of training, and many of the mistakes that have been reported over the last several years have been catastrophic.

It is very difficult for the average patient to guard against this type of mistake, as most are not familiar with the correct dosages of the medications our physicians prescribe, or what they look like. It is helpful, however, to ask your doctor the name of the drug you are being prescribed, what the correct dosage is and how it should be taken, then compare what they tell you to what the pharmacist provides. If your pills make you feel that anything is amiss stop taking them immediately, and if you have been the victim of a pharmaceutical error, seek legal assistance.

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Gavin P. Lentz, Esq.
Bochetto & Lentz

Gavin Lentz (right) was selected as a "Super Lawyer" for 2006-2009 and 2010-2015 in New Jersey by Philadelphia Magazine. He has also been selected as a "Super Lawyer" by Philadelphia Magazine and the Legal Intelligencer in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 - 2015.

On September 16, 2002 Mr. Lentz was selected as one of the top 50 lawyers in Pennsylvania by the Legal Intelligencer.

He has made many television appearances, including on Fox News, The Today Show, Inside Edition, and The Phil Donahue Show.

Mr. Lentz is a member of the American Trial Lawyers Association and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

As a former prosecutor, he knows how to aggressively go after large pharmacy chains to prove the facts necessary to protect your loved one's rights.

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