The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center on Friday informed county health officials that about 300 people seeking treatment for syphilis at the center had been given the wrong medication to treat the sexually transmitted disease, the Los Angeles Times reports. The patients were treated with penicillin formula Bicillin C-R, a weaker drug than the standard syphilis treatment Bicillin L-A. Bicillin C-R contains only about half the dose of the more powerful standard treatment.
"This drug looks identical and has the same name, with the exception of the two letters, so in some ways one can understand how this mistake can be made," center chief operations officer Darrel Cummings told the Times. "After we disclosed the problem, we began identifying the pool of people who might be affected, and we're trying to contact those folks personally." The center is asking any patient who was treated for syphilis since 1999 to return for screening for the STD and a second antibiotic injection, if necessary. Health officials are unsure whether those treated with the lower-dose medication would still have the disease or whether they could infect others.