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Patient dies and three hospitalised in Sciensus chemotherapy incident

A cancer patient has died and three others have been hospitalised after they were administered unlicensed versions of chemotherapy by Sciensus, a private company paid millions by the NHS to provide essential medication.

Three health regulators have launched inquiries into the incident, according to people familiar with the matter. It was caused by an issue at the firm’s medicines manufacturing unit.

In a statement, Sciensus confirmed an “isolated incident” had “affected four patients” and that it was “deeply saddened” that one of them had died.

Sciensus offered its “sincere condolences” to the family and friends of the patient who died, and is conducting a thorough investigation, it added.

The four patients received unlicensed versions of cabazitaxel, a licensed chemotherapy used to treat prostate cancer. The versions administered to the patients differed from the licensed product and therefore were considered unlicensed medicines. 

Sciensus is required to comply with official standards to ensure the quality of the products it produces and the protection of public health. Breaches of these standards can result in the MHRA suspending or removing a company’s licence.

“Patient safety is our highest priority,” said Dr Alison Cave, the MHRA’s chief safety officer. “We are urgently investigating this issue and we will take any necessary regulatory measures to ensure patients are protected."

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Source: The Guardian, 7 July 2023


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