Man dies after pharmacy gives him six-times methadone dose

A 27-year-old Dunedin man died from a drug overdose after a pharmacist mistook him for another man and handed over six times his usual methadone dose, it was reported today.

Christopher Owen Wilson was found dead in his bedroom at about 2.50pm on March 16, Dunedin Coroner's Court was told yesterday. A postmortem examination revealed the cause of death was an overdose of multiple drugs, including methadone, the Otago Daily Times reported.

Needles and syringes were found in Mr Wilson's room, along with an empty plastic bottle labelled 180mg of methadone.

The Pharmacy Council of New Zealand has cleared pharmacist Neville Hill of "issues of competence" after an initial review.

Mr Hill told the court he had given Mr Wilson 180mg of take-away methadone at the Campus Pharmacy that morning, after confusing him with another methadone client.

Mr Wilson should have received 30mg of methadone to be consumed on the premises.

A friend of the dead man, David Chamberlain, said Mr Wilson told him he "watched the guy pour the stuff in the bottle, which was strange because he normally got 30mg to take there".

Mr Wilson then told him he was going home to "ping some up his arm wherever he could find a vein".

Another methadone user, whose name was suppressed, told police it was easy to pick up other clients' doses at the Campus Pharmacy, as no identification was required.

Mr Hill said he used a system of visual and verbal checks, and a checklist with the names and doses on it. He could not recall why or when he had ticked off Mr Wilson's name.

Dunedin-based Medsafe medicines control adviser Denise Martin said the pharmacy's methadone procedures had since been reviewed as part of a regular audit and some changes were made.

Mr Hill said he had been a pharmacist for nearly 40 years with no major incident and expressed his deep sorrow and remorse.

- NZPA

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