A widower whose wife died two weeks after being given the wrong medicine has demanded more compensation.
Andrew Payne, of Lordship Lane, East Dulwich, has waited more than 11 months for the results of an inquiry into the death of his wife, Janice, on November 8 last year.
A report by a lawyer for the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), which can only investigate individuals, was finished a month ago but has not been published.
Mr Payne complained about the outlet, Lloyds Pharmacy in North Cross Road, Dulwich, to its trade federation, the National Pharmaceutical Association (NPA). He was introduced to legal executive Glyn Walduck.
But he was also an employee of National Pharmaceutical Association Insurance (NPAI), based in the same building. And Mr Payne believes this means neither the NPA nor Lloyds’ parent company McKesson can be candid about the severity of the mistake.
NPAI offered him £2,000 after McKesson admitted Janice was given the wrong medicine. McKesson deputy superintendent Victoria Steele also offered him another £2,000.
“There was clearly a conflict of interest,” he said. “The NPA were acting for Lloyds Pharmacy at the same time as investigating outlets.
“The money they have offered me is insulting. No amount will bring my wife back. The money is only important because it will be important to McKesson – which is the seventh-largest company in the world. They casually use the word ‘sorry’ too easily.”
Janice fell ill with liver cancer 30 years ago and suffered with a heart problems as a result of her chemotherapy. She was prescribed Eplerenone by a cardiologist.
But over at least four days in October last year she was instead given the drug Levothyroxine – meant for another patient who had the same surname – for the treatment of thyroid-related problems.
The pharmacy said she took two or three tablets, but her husband thinks it might have been eight. He believes she went 11 days without her prescribed Eplerenone.
The common side effects of the mis-dispensed drug are swelling, and aching joints, nausea and headaches.
She died on November 8 but the coroner has refused to carry out an inquest.
Deputy coroner Philip Barlow told her husband: “It is clear that your wife was very seriously ill before the medication error.
“The pathologist noted the extent of the metastatic disease in the liver and commented that ‘This degree of liver involvement on its own would be sufficient to cause death’.”
The widower has been told the only way he can have an inquest is if there is new evidence or guidance from the GPhC, or via a judicial review in the High Court, which would cost up to £40,000.
When Mr Payne was not satisfied with the response from the McKesson professional standards team at their Coventry HQ, he was contacted on December 24 by McKesson’s professional standards manager Alex Reimmer who referred it on January 3 to Mr Walduck.
McKesson deputy superintendent Ms Steele verbally apologised on March 12 but only doubled the initial £2,000 which the insurers offered.
Mr Payne said: “I rejected that out of hand.
“The pharmacy staff are good people who work long hours, who are always cheerful, helpful and they really do care about their customers and patients. But staff are given an unforgivable choice between patient and career.
“What will likely haunt me forevermore, is me encouraging Janice to take what I thought was an important medicine. She was finding it hard to swallow and I now know that I was encouraging her to take what was a dispensing error.
“As I prepared for my first Christmas without my amazing wife, an email from the manager of the professional standards team (at McKesson) on Christmas Eve said: ‘I believe we have acted responsibly, investigated your concerns and responded to you in a timely manner and have kept you updated throughout.’.
McKesson is currently listed as the eighth-richest company in the USA, according to Fortune 500, with assets valued at £60billion.
A spokeswoman for McKesson said: “We acknowledge this dispensing error and are incredibly sorry for the upset it has caused.
“LloydsPharmacy treats all incidents of this nature extremely seriously and we take active steps to learn from them and make sure they never happen again.
“We make patient safety our highest priority and our pharmacy superintendent’s office have conducted a full and thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding this case.
“The outcome of this has been shared directly with the patient’s family along with the numerous actions taken.”
Pictured top: Andrew and Janice Payne
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.