Marchese president denies link between diluted drug and low price
The president of the company that mixed and supplied diluted chemotherapy drugs to cancer centres in Ontario and New Brunswick says there is “no rational connection between pricing and this incident.”
Marita Zaffiro returned Monday to testify before a Queen’s Park committee investigating the drug error that affected more than 1,200 cancer patients to explain how her company, Marchese Hospit pandora uk al Solutions of Mississauga, could offer the drug mixing service at one sixth the price that a long standing supplier in the industry had been charging.
In previously confidential bid documents submitted to the committee last week by Medbuy, the hospitals’ group purchasing organization, it was revealed that Marchese quoted a rate of $5.60 to $6.60 per bag of intravenous chemotherapy medication, while Baxter Corporation, which had held the contract since 2008, charged $21 to $34.
The bids do not include the cost of the drugs in question cyclophosphamide and gemcitabine which are commonly used to treat cancers of the breast and lymphatic system.
Asked by Tory MPP Jane McKenna to account for the “huge difference in pricing,” Zaffiro told the committee that she could only speculate and was not willing to do so.
Later, by email, Zaffiro’s spokesman provided this statement.
“Importantly, Marchese offered Ontario hospitals a competitive alternative to what was previously a monopoly.”
Marchese’s contract with hospitals began in February 2012.
The incumbent supplier, Baxter, had been mixing medications for hospitals for ne pandora uk arly 30 years.
It wasn’t until the chemotherapy dilution came to light on April 2, 2013, that the public discovered the entire industry had been operating without regulatory oversight. Companies that supply pre mixed medications are not subject to pandora uk routine inspections like retail pharmacies or drug manufacturers.
The Toronto Star exposed this grey area shortly after Cancer Care Ontario revealed that cancer patients in London, Ont., Windsor, Peterborough, Oshawa and St.
Health Canada, Ontario’s health ministry and the province’s College of Pharmacists have since tried to close this oversight gap. Licensed pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who work in compounding facilities are now required to alert the college, a move that will trigger an official inspection.
The committee has heard that the drug dilution was the result of a miscommunication bet pandora uk ween hospitals, Medbuy and Marchese.
Zaffiro said her staff did not remove an excess amount of saline from the intravenous bags before adding the cancer drugs because Marchese thought a single patient would receive an entire bag. The drugs were not requested in a concentration specific format, she said. Zaffiro testified that she did not know that hospitals used the bags as a stock solution, drawing doses for multiple patients from a single bag.
Zaffiro on Monday questioned the hospitals’ approach to administering the chemotherapy.
“I’m not sure why you would take a cyto toxic product and further manipulate it,” she said. “It invalidates everything we’ve done from a quality control perspective.”
Of the patients who took the diluted drugs in the past year, 137 have died. It is unknown what, if any, role the medication error played in their deaths.