- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 9, 2011

FORT LUPTON, Colo. (AP) — A pregnant woman in Colorado mistakenly given a powerful drug that can be used with another medication to perform abortions faces an excruciating wait to find out the fate of her unborn child.

A pharmacist at a Safeway supermarket in Fort Lupton gave Mareena Silva the drug methotrexate last week instead of an antibiotic. Methotrexate, which was prescribed for another woman, commonly is used for psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis, in addition to cancer.

It also may be used in combination with the drug misoprostol to terminate early-stage pregnancies. Ms. Silva, who is six weeks pregnant, told KMGH-TV in Denver that she took a pill and checked the bottle after becoming sick. She was rushed to the hospital.

Doctors say Ms. Silva could miscarry or have a baby with birth defects.

“For all this to happen now, it’s really overwhelming to know that I have to come home and sit and wait,” Ms. Silva said in an interview with the station.

Safeway issued a statement that said policies and procedures meant to prevent medication errors were not adhered to and that the company is redoubling efforts to ensure they are followed. Those procedures include asking twice for the patient’s full name and date of birth before handing out medication.

“We have extended our sincere apologies to Ms. Silva and offered to pay any medical expenses incurred as a result of the prescription error,” Safeway’s statement said. “We understand the anxiety this has caused and the difficulty of Ms. Silva’s situation.”

Ms. Silva told KMGH that the apology didn’t change anything.

“Sorry is not going to cut it. I’m going to have to deal with this a long time,” she said.

A woman who answered the door at Ms. Silva’s apartment Tuesday said she had moved out and wouldn’t talk to the media anymore based on the advice of an attorney. A message left with the woman for Ms. Silva was not immediately returned.

Fort Lupton is a small agricultural community on the eastern plains of Colorado, about 35 miles north of Denver.

Paul Doering, a professor at the University of Florida’s College of Pharmacy who has extensively studied the effects of drugs on pregnancy, said methotrexate works by arresting the growth of rapidly dividing cells. It was used alone in the 1950s by some doctors to perform abortions, but that practice was discontinued because it was ineffective and left fetuses with birth defects.



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