‘Why was I given a lethal cancer drug after it was recalled?’
HSE releases statement to assure patients
Published 17/10/2015 | 02:30
A grandmother battling breast cancer told of her deep shock after discovering she may have received a contaminated chemotherapy treatment, days after it should have been recalled.
Mary Murphy (68) Kilcullen, Co Kildare, is one of 200 patients who fear a potentially life-threatening infection from the infusion of chemotherapy they were administered in public and private hospitals.
She said last night: "I was told the chemotherapy I received in St James's Hospital in Wednesday could have been contaminated.
"I was contacted on Thursday and asked if I had any symptoms. It was a shock."
The alert was raised after internal testing discovered chemotherapy units mixed at Fannin Compounding in Sandyford in Dublin were made in an isolator which was contaminated with bacillius cereus.
The bacteria is mostly linked to food poisoning - but it can also lead to potentially fatal infections, which can be particularly severe for cancer patients whose immune systems are low.
The company which makes the product insisted last night that it alerted the medicines' watchdog the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) "first thing" on Monday morning last about the need to recall all batches of the product made since September 29. Hospitals were also notified and told to contact any patient who may have received suspect product.
It also emerged that this is the third recall of potentially contaminated products from Fannin in the past six months. This was precautionary and no contamination was found.
However, today the HSE said it was able to confirm that no Irish patient received the potentially contaminated chemotherapy following its recall on Monday last (October 12).
“The potentially contaminated chemotherapy was used in the treatment of cancer patients on the week 2nd October to 9th October only,” said today.
“Once the HSE became aware of the situation, on Monday October 11th, immediate and co-ordinated action was undertaken by all oncology teams throughout the country to contact all 200 patients concerned.”
“All patients and/or their families were informed of the situation throughout the next number of days. All patients were informed that the batch related to one period only (2nd October to 9th October).”
"The HSE wishes to assure these patients, if they have not been contacted by a member of their oncology team at this juncture, they have not been treated with the chemotherapy in question."
The HSE added that it wishes to apologise to all of the patients and their families for the distress that this incident has caused.
"Patients and their families should be reassured that the HSE is working closely with the HPRA and the chemotherapy supplier to avoid such incidents in the future."
"Should any patient or family member require further information or reassurance, please contact your local oncology unit," a statement by the HSE said.