Alexandria, Va. — As the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives examined the meningitis outbreak this week, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) distinguished between the types of pharmacy compounding and the settings in which they take place, and emphasized the critical, life-saving benefits of pharmacy compounding.
NACDS sent a letter to members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) and the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce — both of which held hearings on the outbreak on November 14.
“The type of compounding tied to the recent meningitis outbreak, sterile compounding, is a much smaller subset of compounding, and sterile compounding must be performed in very controlled settings. Sterile compounding is not the kind of compounding that is typically available to a patient who walks into a chain pharmacy to fill a prescription,” NACDS stated in its letter.
NACDS also highlighted the importance of pharmacy compounding stating, “Compounding services are the only source of critical medications for millions of patients with unique health needs. For these patients, there are no commercially manufactured preparations available. Through compounding, pursuant to a prescription, pharmacies provide these patients with personalized medications.”
In the letter, NACDS also discussed that prescription compounding has been a traditional function of the practice of pharmacy since the beginning of the profession, “For many years, compounding was synonymous with the practice of pharmacy.”
Community pharmacy is also committed as a partner in public health, healthcare delivery for patients and patient safety. In the letter, NACDS highlighted community pharmacy’s efforts during the 2009 H1N1 flu outbreak. Because of their extensive education and training, community pharmacists helped to meet the need for Tamiflu through their ability to compound liquid Tamiflu from capsules — and at the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“Pharmacists are trained to prepare compounded medications and are tested on this competency. State boards of pharmacy license pharmacies after ensuring, among other things, that they have the proper tools and equipment to compound prescription products. State boards of pharmacy regularly inspect pharmacies, including their compounding practices,” the letter stated.
NACDS also stressed its support for collaboration by FDA and state boards of pharmacy working together to identify sites that violate FDA’s compounding guidelines.
“We further support FDA and the state boards of pharmacy working together to investigate any questionable practices so that compounding is regulated appropriately and in the best interest of patients,” NACDS stated in the letter.