By LIZ HARDAWAY
PUNTA GORDA — On Dec. 23, 2017, Robert Bolssen picked up what he thought was his anti-stroke medication from a Punta Gorda Walmart, according to a lawsuit filed this month in Charlotte County.
A month later, he suffered from a stroke, according to the suit.
Bolssen allegedly received the wrong medication, which had been mislabeled by a St. Petersburg-based packaging company, the lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit was filed July 22 against Walmart, where Bolssen allegedly picked up the prescription, as well as the packaging company International Laboratories, LLC and a John Doe, the pharmacist who filled the prescription.
International Laboratories issued a nationwide recall in January 2018 of the batch of Clopidogrel Bolssen received due to mislabeling. The drug is a blood thinner used to prevent strokes and heart attacks.
The packages labeled as Clopidogrel could have contained Simvastatin, an anti-cholesterol medication, the recall stated.
“Missed doses of Clopidogrel increases the risk of heart attack and stroke which can be life threatening,” the recall stated. “Patients should not stop taking clopidogrel without talking to their prescribing physician.”
Walmart also sent a notice to Bolssen regarding the recall in January 2018, according to court records.
“We take our customers’ safety seriously,” said Walmart spokesperson Randy Hargrove. “The medication provided to Mr. Bolssen was in a sealed container that was filled, packaged and labeled by International Labs. We expect our suppliers to provide products that are safe and labeled in compliance with all applicable laws. We plan to defend the company.”
The Sun’s attempts to reach International Laboratories, LLC and their parent company, Quality Packaging Specialists International, LLC, for comment last week were not immediately successful.
After his stroke, Bolssen is still suffering from post-stroke symptoms on the left side of his body, according to his lawyer.
“He is far from fully recovered,” said Bolssen’s lawyer, Michael Schutt, who is based in Deerfield Beach, Fla.
Bolssen was a painter, with his left hand being dominant.
“His paintings don’t come out nearly as good as they used to be,” Schutt said. “(It’s) taken a toll on him mentally and emotionally. He can’t do what he used to be able to do.”
The lawsuit states Bolssen’s stroke also caused permanent damage to his neurovascular functioning.
“(He) will continue to suffer past and future medical expenses, loss of income and earning capacity, loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering, shortened life expectancy, mental anguish, and emotional distress,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit accuses Walmart, International Laboratories and the pharmacist who filled the prescription that day of being negligent when handling and dispensing the medication.
This isn’t the first time International Laboratories has had to recall a medication due to mislabeling.
The packaging company issued a recall August 2017 for a batch of Pravastatin, a medication that can treat high cholesterol. Instead the batch contained Bupropion, a smoking cessation aid and antidepressant.