Potential legal action following patient death linked to unlicensed chemotherapy

Hausfeld is investigating potential legal action following reports that one cancer patient has died and three others have been hospitalised after they were administered unlicensed versions of chemotherapy. 1 

The chemotherapy was produced by a private company, Sciensus, which has since confirmed that the issues were caused by, “an isolated incident at our medicine manufacturing unit in April”. It is understood that three health regulators, including the Medicines & Healthcare Regulatory Authority (MHRA), the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), have launched inquiries into the incident.

The four patients affected were each provided with cabazitaxel which is used to treat prostate cancer. Although the drug is licensed for use in the UK, the Sciensus versions differed from the licensed product and were therefore considered to be unlicensed medicines. There are understood to be no concerns regarding licensed cabazitaxel product.

Sciensus is reportedly the UK’s largest private provider of homecare medicines services to the NHS and private patients. In recent months, a number of concerns have been raised regarding the company2, and the House of Lords public services committee is currently conducting inquiry into private health companies providing homecare medicines services more generally.

Sarah Moore, a specialist product liability partner at Hausfeld, commented:

“This is a serious incident in which, it appears, a number of clinically vulnerable patients receiving cancer treatment have been hospitalized following their exposure to unlicensed chemotherapy products. We understand that one of those individuals affected has now tragically passed away.

It is vital that the regulators work quickly with the Sciensus to establish what may have gone wrong during the manufacturing of these products so that any risk of further harm to other patients can be avoided."

Sarah Moore and Stuart Warmington from Hausfeld’s product liability team have extensive experience of bringing legal claims against medical product and pharmaceutical companies. If you or a loved one have been affected by these issues and would like to discuss your legal options, please contact the team for a no-obligation initial consultation at:

020 7665 5000


1 Patient dies and three hospitalised in Sciensus chemotherapy incident [The Guardian]
2 Regulator to review safety concerns over medicines courier used by NHS [The Guardian]
3 Seriously ill children put at risk by firm’s failure to deliver NHS medication [The Guardian]
4 Medicines courier Sciensus was warned it was failing patients three years ago [The Guardian] 

Other News