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L.A. gay center dispensed wrong syphilis medication

L.A. gay center dispensed wrong syphilis medication

The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center inadvertently gave more than 650 patients at its health clinic the wrong kind of antibiotic to treat syphilis between January 1999 and March 2004, the Los Angeles Times reports. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the wrong kind of penicillin was given to patients with syphilis infection and those who had sexual contact with someone known or suspected to have syphilis. There are several different formulas of penicillin, health authorities say, and the medication that was dispensed--Bicillin C-R--contains only half the dose the CDC recommends for syphilis treatment. The CDC recommends the use of Bicillin L-A to treat the sexually transmitted disease. The mistake was discovered a year ago by a patient who saw information on an insert packaged with the medicine indicating that it was not intended to treat syphilis. At that time, clinic officials believed only 300 patients had been affected, but an investigation of patient records showed that 663 patients received the less-effective treatment. Clinic officials report having been able to contact 282 of the 429 male clinic patients who had confirmed syphilis infection, and 225 have so far been retreated with the proper antibiotic. Of 234 patients who were treated after reporting sexual contact with someone known or suspected to have syphilis, 116 have been contacted by the center; 98 were tested for evidence of syphilis infection, 22 were identified as having been infected, and 19 have so far been retreated.

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