NCPA Statement on 60 Minutes' Coverage of Meningitis Tragedy, Pharmacy Compounding
Alexandria, Va. March 11, 2013 - National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA issued the following statement today regarding a story on "60 Minutes" on the 2012 meningitis outbreak and the New England Compounding Center (NECC):
"This story appropriately shines a spotlight on the terrible patient suffering that occurred as a result of the irresponsible actions of NECC, and it reinforces the need to ensure proper oversight by health officials. The accounts of former NECC employees that were reported in the story persuasively reinforce the views of NCPA and others that NECC was in fact evading necessary regulation in part by purporting to be a compounding pharmacy.
"As congressional hearings and investigations have made clear, prior to the tragic meningitis outbreak, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Massachusetts Board of Pharmacy had adequate authority to take action against NECC. They could have acted to mitigate or potentially even prevent patient suffering. Sadly, they did not.
"Every day thousands of patients benefit tremendously from the services of compounding pharmacies. Compounding pharmacies help avert allergic reactions to mass-produced drugs, flavor medication for a child's consumption and meet countless veterinary needs. The FDA itself has endorsed compounding pharmacies' role in alleviating drug shortages, such as with Tamiflu during the 2009 H1N1 flu outbreak, or in the compounding of the drug Makena used in preterm births. In addition, some estimates put the number of intravenous medications used in hospitals made by compounding pharmacies at 40 percent. Without these providers, many thousands of patients would not have access to these medications and parts of the U.S. health care system would come to a standstill. Unfortunately, "60 Minutes'" account did not reflect any of these facts.
"As a country, we must strike the right balance to go after rogue entities like NECC while preserving patients' access to the safe and essential compounded medications that their physicians prescribe. If more resources and training are required, such as for boards of pharmacies and their investigators, then those needs must be accommodated. NCPA members and staff pledge to continue to work constructively with policymakers and health officials toward these goals."