Sunday 19 November 2017

Gran with cancer tells of concern over chemo 'contamination' scare

Mary Murphy
Mary Murphy

This Kildare grandmother has told of her concerns after discovering her chemotherapy treatment is at the centre of a national health scare.

Hundreds of cancer patients were alerted this week about a potentially life-threatening contamination of some chemotherapy treatments.

Mary Murphy (68), from Kilcullen, Co Kildare was contacted by health professionals in St James's Hospital, where she is receiving treatment for cancer, to inform her of the fears that it may have been contaminated during manufacturing.

"It is a little bit worrying when you hear what the side effects could be," Mrs Murphy told the Herald.

The treatments, made by Fannin Compounding Ltd in Dublin, were recalled as a precautionary measure after it was discovered one of its manufacturing machines was contaminated with a form of bacteria that could cause serious and potentially fatal non-gastrointestinal-tract infections.

The bacteria is bacillus cereus, which is widely found in the environment. While associated mainly with food poisoning, it is being increasingly reported to be a cause of serious and potentially fatal non-gastrointestinal-tract infections.

The company contacted all hospitals that would have received the potentially implicated product on Monday October 12.

Around 200 cancer patients at hospitals nationwide, including six in Dublin, have been offered medical appointments to discuss any possible concerns.

Mrs Murphy told how she received a phone call from a nurse at St James's Hospital asking her how she was feeling, and she said that she was feeling fine.

Mrs Murphy, who is battling breast cancer, said that she was asked if she had any flu-like symptoms or cold symptoms.

"She said the reason I'm ringing you is because, she said, a batch of chemotherapy, we think, could have a slight contamination [and] if I did contract flu or cold symptoms to contact the hospital."


Mrs Murphy was diagnosed with breast cancer last June and is being treated at the Dublin hospital.

"I was put on four very strong chemotherapies to start off with," she said. "They were every two weeks, and then they were reduced to once a week to a milder chemotherapy and Herceptin."

Mrs Murphy has six more treatments to go before surgery, which will take place later this year on in January.

She last received chemotherapy in St James's on Wednesday.

The public hospitals involved are: Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown; Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda; the Rotunda Maternity Hospital; South Tipperary General Hospital; St Luke's General Hospital Kilkenny; St Luke's Radiation Oncology Network, Rathgar, Bantry General Hospital; Beaumont Hospital; Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital; Naas General Hospital; Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe; South Infirmary Hospital in Cork; and St James's Hospital.


Fannin Compounding said it has been working closely with the HSE and Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) in relation to a precautionary recall of a number of batches of chemotherapy medicines manufactured between September 29 and October 12, 2015.

Separately, the HPRA said there is "no evidence" at this point to suggest an issue with any of the medicines recalled. All patients involved have now been contacted.

The HSE said it was notified this week of the precautionary recall of a number of batches of chemotherapy drugs.

Meanwhile dad of Dubs mascot Molly McNally (7) who has been battling cancer said it would be a very worrying time for anybody who was contacted.

Molly's own chemotherapy treatment finished in February earlier this year.

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