LOS ANGELES, SEPT. 26 -- A possibly mislabeled drug sold to the Veterans Administration has been recalled by its manufacturer, which warned that taking the wrong medication could endanger the lives of heart patients.
In announcing the recall, Watson Laboratories said that some of the 23,000 bottles of "Furosemide Tablets USP, 40mg" sold to the VA may have been mislabeled as "Verapamil Hydrochloride Tablets 80mg, lot 34401M6."
The recall follows two reports from the VA involving 10 bottles of furosemide tablets that were mislabeled. No injuries have been reported, the company said.
"Both medicines are prescribed for serious, but different heart conditions," a company statement said. "Use of furosemide instead of verapamil hydrochloride could be life-threatening. Accordingly, Watson has requested that affected federal facilities contact patients who may have received incorrect medication."
The Veterans Administration may have distributed the incorrectly labeled medication to the military services and other federal facilities, which were also being notified of the recall, the company said.
The furosemide in the mislabeled bottles is a round, white tablet embossed with the words "Watson 301" on one side and scored on the other, the company said.
The real 80mg verapamil hydrochloride is identified as a round, film-coated, peach-colored tablet embossed "Watson 344" on one side and scored on the other.
David Taber, director of regulatory affairs for Watson Laboratories, said that the bottles were shipped to two VA depots in February. The first discovery of mislabeled bottles occurred in late June, he said.
"When the VA examined the total situation . . . they did their own digging around and concluded there was no problem," he said.
The recall was ordered after another VA pharmacy discovered a problem Wednesday, he said.
Watson Laboratories is a manufacturer of generic drugs, headquartered in Corona, Calif., 45 miles southeast of Los Angeles.