A Polk County (Florida, U.S) jury-awarded compensation of $25.8 million might be doubtful salve to the hurting family of a young mother. Beth Hippely, 42, suffered a massive stroke and later died after a prescription was wrongly filled.
Hippely had passed away earlier this year, at that time her death being blamed on an error made in 2002. Before her death, when the mother of three was under a doctor's care for breast cancer.
Giving her an 88 percent chance of surviving the cancer, doctors prescribed chemotherapy and Warfarin, a blood-thinning medication. Horribly enough, while she was prescribed 1 milligram of the drug, the prescription was filled with a dosage 10 times the strength.
The jury found Walgreens pharmacy and pharmacist Elizabeth Partlow, guilty of the prescription error, which caused a cerebral hemorrhage that resulted in permanent bodily injury, disability and physical pain.
Consequently, Hippely was forced to stop chemotherapy treatments, and this resulted in her death.
"Beth Hippely died unnecessarily because this tenfold overdose with Warfarin by the pharmacy she trusted caused her cancer to come back with a vengeance and it interrupted all of her cancer treatments," Chris Searcy of the South Florida law firm Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, was quoted.
According to court documents, a 19-year-old pharmacy technician with scant training filled the prescription with the incorrect dosage.Ironically, the pharmacist responsible for verifying the prescription was not made aware of the prescription error until three years later.
In Florida state of U.S, there are no regulations for the reporting of prescription errors. There are also no prescribed standards for pharmacy technicians, who can often be high school students with minimal training.
Says Karen Terry, counsel and partner of the Searcy Denney law firm: "This is a case of profits over safety where a company's aggressive growth strategy resulted in a tragic prescription error.
"Walgreens holds itself out as 'The Pharmacy America Trusts,' but this will offer little comfort to Beth Hippely's husband and children for her untimely and preventable death", she added.
In response, Walgreens corporate spokeswoman Carol Hively issued the following statement: "We're truly sorry for what the Hippely family has been through, and we've personally apologized to them.
"We have been, and continue to be, the leader in pharmacy safety initiatives. We had hoped the verdict would have been fair and reasonable."
It is not known yet whether Walgreens pharmacy plans to appeal the verdict.