PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Renews Scrutiny Of Pharmacy Rules, Regulators

A pharmacist mixes medication at a compounding pharmacy in West Palm Beach, Fla. Thousands of these pharmacies operate nationwide. A compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts has been blamed for a deadly outbreak of fungal hepatitis. (AP/Brian Skoloff)

Congressional committee leaders are asking health officials for briefings on the fungal meningitis outbreakthat has now killed 12 people in 10 states. In Tennessee, where six patients given contaminated steroid injections for back pain have died, Gov. Bill Haslam says the state will not rush to implement new rules.

A vial of injectable steroids from the New England Compounding Center is displayed in the Tennessee Department of Health in Nashville. (AP/Kristin M. Hall)

But The Tennessean reports that California is already taking steps to tighten standards, even though no deaths have been reported there, and California already has some of the nation’s strictest rules for compounding pharmacies.

Questions are also being asked about regulators themselves. The Boston Globe reports that owners of the New England Compounding Center, implicated in the outbreak, also own another pharmacy and one of the executives there is a board member of the state agency that regulates pharmacies.

Dr. Sarah Sellers, a licensed pharmacist who has been working in compounding pharmacies and testified before Congress in 2003 about her concerns about them, tells Here & Now‘s Robin Young that physicians and patients are not aware of the risks of products made at compounding pharmacies and, in her opinion, “we are only beginning to scratch the surface” of deaths and other health complications caused by drugs made there.

In an opinion piece published in the journal Drugs, she argues that there is not enough mandatory reporting of problems associated with compounding pharmacies.

Guest:

  • Dr. Sarah Sellers, pharmacist and former FDA compliance regulator

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

April 27 26 Comments

Economist: NAFTA Benefits Economy Despite Job Losses

Gordon Hanson explains his research on the effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement and why he still supports it.

April 27 12 Comments

HBO CEO Talks ‘Game Of Thrones’ And The Future Of Streaming

Richard Plepler discusses how the company is going after millennials and what he sees as the future of HBO and television.

April 26 4 Comments

How A City With 446 Bridges Deals With Infrastructure

Pittsburgh has more bridges than even Venice, Italy, but at least 20 are now labeled "structurally deficient."

April 26 2 Comments

Trump's State Chair Woos Unbound Delegates In Pennsylvania

The state has one of the most unique methods of assigning delegates. The GOP winner gets only 17 of 71 delegates.