Burnaby man in ICU after Shoppers accidentally gives him opioids

Given opioids by mistake

A Burnaby man visited a pharmacy on Saturday afternoon to fill a prescription for antibiotics, but instead he was given a cup of powerful opioids which he consumed on the spot.

At a Shoppers Drug Mart on Kingsway, Barry Norton was told to take a cup full of pills, according to CTV News Vancouver.

“He said, 'What's going through my mind is, well this is a different antibiotic,'” said his wife Shelly, adding she recalls the conversation she had with Barry following his pharmacy visit. 

Barry was confused by the cup of pills as he asked the employee to double check with her colleague.

“He speaks up and he tells Barry, 'Yeah that’s right, you take that. Just take it and drink the water.'”

After Barry took the cup full of pills, he received a call from the pharmacy later that day. Because Barry works as a contractor, his phone calls are all recorded for work. This is how the conversation went:

Pharmacist: "I need you to go to the hospital right now."

Barry: "Need me to go where?"

Pharmacist: "I need you to go to the hospital."

Barry: "A hospital?"

Pharmacist: "Yeah, she gave you the wrong medication."

Barry was then informed that the pharmacy gave him a potentially lethal dose of Kadian, a slow-releasing opioid.

“The ICU nurse said if he had come home and consumed alcohol, like an afternoon beer or something, she said he would not be here today," said Shelly. "It would have killed him.”

After being rushed to the hospital, Barry collapsed in the bathroom. The opioids had caused his blood pressure to spike and doctors wrapped him in compression bandages, over fears of blood clots.

Barry then received a dose of Narcan on Sunday to restore consciousness. He kept slipping in and out of consciousness and Shelly thought he was going to die.

He was set to be discharged from the ICU on Friday, but blood clots were discovered in both of his lungs and Barry will now require follow-up testing over the next six months. His family is concerned over the long-term effects and they want answers.

“My husband deserves to be compensated for this," Shelly said.

The Shoppers is now under an internal investigation as well as a separate investigation from the B.C. College of Pharmacists. 

“If there’s something that is felt that is necessary to have a penalty, we can suspend licenses, we can remove licenses from a pharmacist or impose sanctions," said the college registrar, Bob Nakagawa, adding how important it is that patients and pharmacists check IDs.

Barry's family is taking next steps with lawyers and they believe the Shoppers thought Barry was someone else, who regularly obtains opioid prescriptions at that location.

-With files from CTV News Vancouver

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