Further wait for patients in chemotherapy scare
Majority of units declared risk-free but remaining test results unavailable until Friday
Last Friday, it emerged Fannin Compounding in Dublin issued an alert after finding a machine used to manufacture chemotherapy drugs was contaminated with bacteria which can cause serious gastro-intestinal infections. Photograph: Stockphoto/Getty Images
Cancer patients at the centre of a contamination scare will have to wait another few days to find out whether chemotherapy treatment they received is declared free of risk, according to health authorities.
The majority of the units of treatment that were implicated in the scare have now been declared risk-free, but it will take until Friday before test results become available on the remaining units.
The Health Products Regulatory Authority said it is continuing to investigate the incident at Fannin Compounding in Dublin. Last Friday, it emerged the company issued an alert after finding a machine used to manufacture chemotherapy drugs was contaminated with bacteria which can cause serious gastro-intestinal infections.
The recall was precautionary and there was no evidence to suggest an issue with any of the units, it repeated.
Of the 200 patients involved, 187 patients are receiving treatment from 13 publicly funded hospitals and the remainder are in private treatment. All public patients and/or their families have been contacted, the HSE said. If cancer patients have not been contacted by now by their oncology team, they have not been treated with the suspect chemotherapy.
The authority rejected claims of a delay in informing patients. Fannin notified it of the issue on October 12th and affected hospitals were contacted the same day, a spokeswoman said. Two letters were sent to hospitals in the two following days.
The HSE also defended its response, saying once it became aware of the situation, “immediate and co-ordinated action” was undertaken by all oncology teams throughout the country to contact all 200 patients concerned. By the end of the week, all patients had been contacted.
One oncologist told The Irish Times the first he became aware of the issue was October 15th, a day before the story broke in the media.
The affected patients are receiving cancer treatment in 13 public and six private hospitals.