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Firms fined for supplying hospital with faulty syringes

  • 4 Comments

A company and its sister firm have been sentenced for supplying hospitals with defective pre-filled syringes, which contributed to the death of a diabetic patient.

Neil Judge, from Barnsley, died at the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield in November 2010 after being treated with a batch of intravenous insulin syringes that contained no insulin.

“Fresenius Kabi Ltd and Calea UK Ltd are equally responsible for the medicinal failure”

Alastair Jeffrey

He suffered multi-organ failure triggered by a serious episode of diabetic ketoacidosis because his body was deprived of insulin for more than 13 hours.

The faulty syringes were supplied to Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust by Fresenius Kabi Ltd, a licenced wholesaler for Calea UK Ltd, which manufactured the product.

Both companies, based in Runcorn, Cheshire, were fined at Sheffield Crown Court today after being prosecuted by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

Fresenius Kabi was convicted for its role in a “medicinal failure” that a coroner had earlier ruled was a “major contributory factor” in Mr Judge’s death.

The court heard that supplying faulty syringes was not an isolated incident and that Calea also manufactured a batch of pre-prepared Tobramycin syringes that were administered to a patient with cystic fibrosis at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital in August 2011.

The syringes were each found to contain three times the prescribed daily dose. The over medication came to light after the patient reported an adverse reaction described as a fizzing sensation.

The court was told the two incidents followed a series of inspections by MHRA officials that highlighted deficiencies at the Runcorn site, where Calea and Fresenius Kabi operated.

Fresenius Kabi Ltd, of Eastgate Way, Manor Park, Runcorn, was fined a total of £500,000 and ordered to pay a further £5,900 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Sections 64(1) and 67(2) of the Medicines Act 1968.

Calea UK Ltd, of the same address, was fined £50,000 with £5,900 costs after also pleading guilty to similar breaches. 

MHRA head of enforcement Alastair Jeffrey said: “The two companies are very closely linked, and the onus is on them both to produce and supply products that are fit for purpose and that conform to precise specifications for each and every batch.”

  • 4 Comments

Readers' comments (4)

  • So what about the incompetent "procurement specialists" who failed in their due diligence, quality control, whatever you want to call it? - in my book, they should share the blame. The NHS loves moving blame elsewhere to cover for their bumbling incompetence.

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  • michael stone

    'The court was told the two incidents followed a series of inspections by MHRA officials that highlighted deficiencies at the Runcorn site, where Calea and Fresenius Kabi operated.

    Very 'worrying' !

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  • michael stone | 10-Jul-2015 10:01 am

    as a general observation, if you don't understand these threads, evident from all of your commentary, just admit it or ask for clarification. good lad! this is not a place for trolls.

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  • I once administered heparin subcutaneously from a faulty prepared syringe where the sharp end of the needle had been inserted into the barrel of the syringe with the effect of, on trying to inject the product, the needle failed to penetrate the skin as it was flat and instead just skidded across the skin leaving a slight scratch. Fortunately it caused no harm to the patient but greatly worried me and made me question my technique as patients reported that my injections were normally painless. Although I always check the syringe and their contents I should have also been more attentive to the needle but out of giving hundreds of similar injections and never heard of this happening before and was in a rush as the patient was already at the meal table surrounded by others, and did not expect such a manufacturing error that must have a very low probability of such an incidence.

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