Watered-Down Chemotherapy Affects 1,000 Canadian Cancer Patients for the Last Year

As with prescription pills and liquid medications, patients expect their medicinal doses to be the correct amount — not too much or too little. Unfortunately, Canadian cancer patients have undergone a cancer patient’s worst nightmare — to receive contaminated chemotherapy doses, doses that were 20% less potent than their uncontaminated counterparts. According to Cancer Care Ontario oncologist Dr. Carol Sawka, approximately 1,000 individuals received chemotherapy doses mixed with water. The contaminated chemotherapy mix was produced by a distributor known as Marchese Hospital Solutions, and some patients were given the watered-down doses of chemo for up to twelve months. As for the patients, it is impossible to know how the water doses affected them. Sawka says that oncologists will have to sit down with their patients and monitor the progression or remission of a patient’s cancer in order to know how to move forward from this unfortunate incident. The two drugs involved, cyclophosphamide and gemcitabine, were known to treat breast, lung, ovarian, and pancreatic cancers as well as blood and lymph systems issues.

The water chemo doses were discovered by a pharmacy technician in Peterborough, and four hospitals have been affected: Peterborough Regional Health Centre, Lakeridge Health, Windsor Regional Hospital, and London Health Sciences Centre. Saint John Regional Hospital spokeswoman Janet Hogan reported that 186 cancer patients were affected at her hospital in New Brunswick. The patients affected were notified last week.

As a result of this unfortunate scandal, all hospitals are now mixing their own chemotherapy doses and have removed Marchese Hospital Solutions from its supplier contract. While Marchese Hospital Solutions says that the incident was a mistake, I do not think it a mistake that water was mixed in with chemotherapy solutions and sent to these five hospitals in large doses. This was the work of someone who worked at the company and either 1) wanted to get off without mixing the right amount or 2) someone who wanted to mix some, pour in water to make up the difference, and continue to charge the hefty amounts of money it did for what hospitals believed were quality chemo doses. It is no different with gasoline, for example: if someone finds that they are pumping water into their gas tank at the station, it is not a mistake; they are pumping water because those who run the gas station have either 1) run out of gas and are trying to continue making a dollar or 2) trying to save oil and continue making their current profit margins. Either way, oil and water do not end up in the same tank by accident. In the same way, water and chemo do not end up in the same injection syringes and bags.

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