Senate approves placing compounding pharmacies under federal oversight

Compounding pharmacies are currently regulated by states, not by stricter US Food and Drug Administration

A meningitis outbreak linked to the New England Compounding Center spurred bill to add oversight of compounding pharmacies.
2012 Getty Images

The Senate on Monday overwhelmingly approved a bill to increase oversight of compounding pharmacies, which traditionally mix drugs for individual patients. The pharmacies have recently been in the spotlight because of a tainted-drug scandal last year and because of their role in providing drugs for some lethal injections.

Unlike typical pharmaceutical companies, compounding pharmacies are currently regulated by individual states, not by the federal government’s stricter Food and Drug Administration. The pharmacies, however, will not have to register with the FDA. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the legislation, which will also create a set of national standards to track drugs through the supply chain. The House of Representatives passed the bill in September.

The bill was spurred by a deadly fungal meningitis outbreak in 2012 linked to the New England Compounding Center. Contaminated drugs were distributed to medical facilities in 23 states and led to the deaths of 48 people. More than 700 others were treated for fungal infections.

Compounding pharmacies have also become a choice to produce lethal injection drugs for capital-punishment states as many other pharmaceutical companies continue to distance themselves from the controversial practice of executing prisoners.

Missouri, scheduled to execute a serial killer on Wednesday, is under criticism for acquiring its lethal drugs from an undisclosed compounding pharmacy.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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