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The Economist/The New York Times

Family of North Sydney woman angry over drug crisis


ERIN POTTIE CAPE BRETON BUREAU
Published December 13, 2014 - 8:34am

Average: 3.7 (3 votes)

Woman fell ill after mixing prescribed medicines; legal action possible

Sharon Garnier, 69, of North Sydney, displays a prescription she was given for pneumonia. (STEVE WADDEN)

A North Sydney womans family is sending out a warning after her pharmacist allegedly failed to
protect her from an adverse drug interaction.
After visiting her family doctor in late September, Sharon Garnier was prescribed a medication
known as Avelox to treat pneumonia.

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Garnier began taking the pills Sept. 30, the same day her prescription was filled at the Walmart
pharmacy on Kings Street in North Sydney.
A day later, Garnier complained of having a headache and feeling dizzy, light-headed and
nauseous.

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Feeling too weak to walk to the family vehicle, she was taken to hospital by paramedics.
Vince Garnier of Bedford, speaking on behalf of his mother who did not wish to be interviewed
said she was transported to hospital by ambulance four times in October for similar symptoms and
general malaise.
On her last trip to hospital on Oct. 13, after nearly passing out at home, an emergency room doctor

told the family that Sharon should never have been issued Avelox due to its adverse interaction with
her other medications, warfarin and sotalol.
Garnier said his mother was then diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome, a condition that causes fast,
chaotic heartbeats, sudden onset of weakness and fainting, and, in some cases, death.
He said prescriptions for warfarin and sotalol, taken in relation to a stroke Sharon suffered 13 years
ago, were also being filled at the North Sydney pharmacy.
The antibiotic that the pharmacist gave my mother interacted not just with one of her medications,
but with both, said Vince Garnier. And the (adverse health) classification was major for both, not
mild or moderate, but major for both.
My father broke down crying; he thought my mother was going to die. Theyve been married 52
years, almost 53 years and for this to happen were obviously all very angry.
Garnier said his parents were originally seeking a reimbursement of $631.07 from the local Walmart
pharmacy for their ambulance bills and another bill from the Cape Breton district health authoritys
record department.

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After hearing no response, they later increased their request to include a $500 donation to the Heart
& Stroke Foundation in Nova Scotia.
The family is now considering legal action and has been in contact with Walmarts corporate
headquarters.
I believe there should be some responsibility and some accountability, and Im not honestly sure we
can get that by handling it quietly with Walmart lawyers, said Garnier, a former police officer. I
think the public has a right to know.
A Walmart lawyer was expected to call Garnier on Friday.
A complaint has also been launched with the Nova Scotia College of Pharmacists, the regulatory
body that governs pharmacy in the province.
College deputy registrar Bev Zwicker said once a complaint is received, it is investigated thoroughly.
Zwicker said privacy regulations under the provincial Pharmacy Act prevent her from speaking on
the specifics of individual complaints.
Weve made it very clear both in the legislation and in the standards of practice that one of the
essential and critical roles of a pharmacist is to determine the appropriateness of drug therapy and
that would include identifying if there are any drug-related problems, so that the pharmacist is
satisfied that it is appropriate for this person to receive this medication, said Zwicker.
Lorna Devoe, the pharmacist the Garniers claim gave them the problematic prescription refused

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Alex Robertson, Wal-Marts director of corporate affairs in Quebec, also declined to comment.
For privacy reasons I cant comment on any discussions that weve had with the family, and
because this is a legal matter I cant get into any of the details at this time, he said.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.

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About the Author

ERIN POTTIE CAPE BRETON BUREAU


E-Mail: epottie@herald.ca
Twitter: @cbnewsreporter

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