FREMONT, Mich. (WOOD) — A Fremont family said their 14-year-old son took the wrong medication for nearly a month because a local Walgreens filled a prescription incorrectly.
The family said they and the pharmacy only realized the mistake when they went to get a refill.
At first, everything seemed to be in order when Carol Backensto picked up the medication for her son Elijah. The correct name, address and medication label was on the bag that held the prescription.
“You look at the bag when you go to the store, they ask you a birthday and your address and you go and get your medication,” said Backensto.
But she said she noticed Elijah started acting strangely quickly after he started taking the meds.
“He was like extremely feisty and bitey and moody, extremely moody, and his school work just went downhill everything went downhill,” Backensto said.
The pills were not working like they were supposed to.
“We were about ready to call the doctor’s office and see if he needed a different dosage because he wasn’t acting like himself,” Backensto said. “I figured the way he was growing or something like that was doing with how he was acting but I was just so wrong.”
Backensto said she trusts her 14-year-old son to take his medication on his own, so she gave him the bottle. She did not look at the pills herself.
“You’ve got to teach somebody responsibility at some point in time,” said Backensto. “He knows how to use the stove. He knows how to use the microwave. He knows how to use the shower. What am I supposed to do? Take a pill out of the bottle and put it in his mouth and say, ‘swallow?’ No.”
Backensto said that a different-colored medication wouldn’t have been an immediate red flag for her son, as the color had changed before when the prescription changed from a brand name to a generic form.
When it was time to get a refill, she noticed for the first time that the last name on the bottle was wrong. The bottle had the correct first name on it and the same last initial, but inside was a different prescription for a different child.
“He was on the wrong medication for basically a whole entire month,” Backensto said.
Her son had been taking a generic form of Singulair, an asthma medicine, not his prescription for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Luckily, Elijah is not allergic to the asthma medication and did not have a negative reaction. His moodiness appears to have been caused by the lack of his regular medication.
“I’m grateful that it wasn’t a dangerous medication for my child because if it would have been dangerous that would have been really bad,” Backensto said.
Backensto admits now she should have double-checked the pills before giving the bottle to her son, but said she trusted her pharmacy. She said she will double-check his medication from now on.
Backensto said she and her husband told Walgreens in Fremont about the mixup. She said she was told the pharmacy would give the teen the correct medicine, but the Backensto family would have to pay for it.
“Are you serious?” Backensto said she exclaimed. “My insurance has paid for this! And to top it off, it was somebody else’s. I gave [the pharmacy] right back the paper and said Walgreens did this, Walgreens can pay for it.”
Backensto said the pharmacist at the Fremont story asked for the bottle back twice.
Target 8 reached out to Walgreens corporate office. After a representative looked into the issue, media relations representative Phil Caruso e-mailed this statement:
“Cases like this are rare and we take them very seriously. If a prescription error happens, our first concern is the patient’s well-being. We’re sorry this occurred and we apologized to the patient’s family.
“We have a multi-step prescription filling process with numerous safety checks in each step to reduce the chance of human error. We encourage patients to check with our pharmacists or their health care professional whenever they have a question about their medications, as the patient’s family did in this case. We also notified the patient’s physician and offered to provide the correct medication to the patient. We are investigating what happened and how to prevent this situation from happening again.”
Target 8 read the statement to the Backenstos.
“I should be wearing boots right now instead of shoes. It’s getting deep,” Jeff Backensto, Elijah’s stepfather said immediately after Target 8 finished reading them the statement. “They did not apologize to us they told us to leave.”
“Was that their way of apologizing — through you to us?” Carol Backensto wondered.
The couple said they understand mistakes happen, but wish they had gotten an actual apology.
They have moved their son’s prescription to a small local pharmacy in Fremont, saying they no longer trust Walgreens.
If you have questions about medications, the National Institutes of Health recommends using drugs.com’s pill identifier. You can enter in letters on the pills, colors and shapes to identify your medicine.