A Montreal pharmacist mistakenly damaged the dream of a woman who was undergoing in vitro fertilization treatments to have a child, by giving her contraceptive medicine instead.
Kelvin Brière was fined $8,500 last week by the Disciplinary Council of the Order of Pharmacists of Quebec (OPQ) for this fault, committed in July 2020 at the Van Hoenacker pharmacy.
"[...] this unfortunate situation is the result of a combination of negligence on the part of [the pharmacist] and the lack of use of his professional judgment", summarizes the lawyer for the assistant syndic of the OPQ in the judgment.
Rather than refill progesterone, as indicated on the patient's prescription from a fertility clinic, Mr. Brière gave her Depo-Provera, called medroxyprogesterone.
Depo-Provera is a contraceptive that is administered every two or three months, while progesterone is used as a fertility agent.
"Despite the similarity in their names, basic research would have allowed [the pharmacist] to clearly distinguish progesterone from medroxyprogesterone", lamented the Disciplinary Council.
According to the judgment, the patient had to inject progesterone five days before the embryo transfer.
But as a result of the error, "the patient's IVF cycle must be canceled and the process postponed for several months due to the latter's lack of menstruation."
The Disciplinary Council deplores that the pharmacist "made very summary checks".
He points out that the prescription not only came from a fertility clinic, but was also typed and clear.
He adds that Mr. Brière should have "redoubled his vigilance", in particular because it was a new patient and that the field of fertility was not familiar to him.
“Despite the pressure resulting from the busyness of the pharmacy and the impatience of the patients, the pharmacist must be rigorous when verifying and filling prescriptions. This is the ABCs of the profession,” the Council argued in its decision.
For his part, the pharmacist said he regretted his mistake before the Disciplinary Board.
“He adds that he is aware that this added to the psychological and emotional distress of a couple who had the desire to have children,” the judgment reads.