Compounding Pharmacies Urged to Sign Up for U.S. Food and Drug Administration Oversight

Lance Leider headshotBy Lance O. Leider, J.D., The Health Law Firm

It is estimated there are 3,000 compounding pharmacies in the United States, 14 of which have signed up to be regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the Drug Quality and Security Act. On January 8, 2014, the commissioner of the FDA sent thousands of letters to hospitals and other medical providers that may buy medicines from the compounding pharmacies. The letters urged providers to encourage compounding pharmacies to register as producers of sterile drugs in an effort to protect the public. The letters also mentioned last year’s meningitis outbreak stemming from unsanitary conditions at the New England Compounding Center (NECC). To read a previous blog on the meningitis outbreak, click here.

In November 2013, the Drug Quality and Security Act was passed. Under the law, the FDA does not have absolute authority over compounders, but it creates significant safeguards. To read a previous blog on the Drug Quality and Security Act, click here.

Registering with the FDA is Voluntary.

The goal of the Drug Quality and Security Act is to enact greater controls, tracking, and oversight of the compounding pharmacy industry. Previously, the FDA only regulated manufacturers of medications, leaving compounding pharmacies to be regulated by state boards of pharmacy. However, this two-part regulation left large compounding operations like the NECC in somewhat of a gray area. Large compounding labs mass producing products and shipping across state lines have recently come under fire from state boards of pharmacy.

Overview of the Drug Quality and Security Act.

Under the final legislation, compounders that mix sterile drugs without a prescription and ship across state lines can choose to register as outsourcing facilities. The pharmacies that register are regulated by the FDA rather than by state boards of pharmacy. The hope was that compounding pharmacies will register with the FDA because physicians will prefer using facilities that are federally regulated, and therefore considered safer.

The law also creates a national system for tracking prescription drugs from the manufacturer to retail pharmacies, first this is done through serial numbers on bottles and later through electronic codes. Drug makers will be required to add serial numbers to all drug packages within four years, and within 10 years drug makers must implement electronic codes that can be used to track medicine from the factory to the pharmacy. To read a summary of the Drug Quality and Security Act, click here.

What Registered Compounding Pharmacies Must Agree To.

Compounding pharmacies registering with the FDA must agree to routine inspections, and to report adverse events associated with their products. Registered compounding pharmacies must also pay a fee for the privilege. The FDA is listing on its website the companies that have already registered. Click here to see the list.

Ultimately, the result of voluntary federal oversight will mean more rigorous compliance standards for both in and out-of-state compounding pharmacies. However, the purported benefits (more business and a better reputation) may far outweigh the burden.

If your pharmacy is considering FDA registration it would be best to consult with an experienced health attorney to guide you through the process.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Investigations of Pharmacies and Pharmacists.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to pharmacies, pharmacists and other health providers in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations, Medicare investigations, Medicaid investigations and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Comments?

What do you think about the number of compounding pharmacies that have signed up to be regulated by the FDA? As a provider, would you consider using compounding pharmacies that have not signed up? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Palmer, Eric. “Compounders Start to Sign Up for FDA Oversight.” FiercePharma. (January 10, 2014). From: http://www.fiercepharma.com/story/compounders-start-sign-fda-oversight/2014-01-10

Associated Press. “States Urged to Register Compounding Pharmacies.” ABC News. (January 10, 2014). From: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/states-urged-register-compounding-pharmacies-21489538

Burton, Thomas. “FDA Urges Compounding Pharmacies to Register.” Wall Street Journa. (January 10, 2014). From: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303754404579312680341438784

About the Author: Lance O. Leider is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Drug Quality and Security Act Boosts FDA Regulations Over Compounding Pharmacies

Lance Leider headshotBy Lance O. Leider, J.D., The Health Law Firm

On November 18, 2013, the United States Senate voted to increase federal oversight of compounding pharmacies that produce large volumes of mixed drugs. This bill comes in the wake of last year’s meningitis outbreak stemming from unsanitary conditions at the New England Compounding Center (NECC). Click here to read a previous blog on the meningitis outbreak.

This bill does not give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) absolute authority over compounders, but creates significant safeguards.

This particular piece of legislation passed the House of Representatives in September of 2013, passed in the Senate in November 2013, and President Obama signed it into law on November 28, 2013. To read a summary of the Drug Quality and Security Act, click here.

Under Law, Registration with the FDA is Voluntary.

The goal of the Drug Quality and Security Act is to enact greater controls, tracking, and oversight of the compounding pharmacy industry. Presently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only regulates manufacturers of medications, leaving compounding pharmacies to be regulated by state boards of pharmacy.

However, this two-part regulation left large compounding operations like the NECC in somewhat of a gray area. Large compounding labs like NECC that mass produce products to ship across state lines have come under fire from state boards of pharmacy.

At a recent meeting of the Florida Board of Pharmacy’s Compounding Committee, the panel members expressed concerns over the lack of inspections and oversight of pharmacies shipping drugs into Florida. In general, the Committee supported the efforts to strengthen regulations, whether by the FDA or state boards.

Overview of the Law.

Under the final legislation, compounders that mix sterile drugs without a prescription and ship across state lines can choose to register as outsourcing facilities. The pharmacies that register would then be regulated by the FDA rather than by state boards of pharmacy. The hope is that compounding pharmacists will want to register with the FDA because physicians will prefer using compounding pharmacies that are federally regulated, and therefore considered safer.

The law also creates a national system for tracking prescription drugs from the manufacturer to retail pharmacies, first this is done through serial numbers on bottles and later through electronic codes. Drug makers will be required to add serial numbers to all drug packages within four years, and within 10 years drug makers must implement electronic codes that can be used to track medicine from the factory to the pharmacy.

Issues with Previous Inspections.

As mentioned above, the issue of large-scale compounding and nonresident pharmacies was recently discussed by the Florida Board of Pharmacy.

Florida has more than 700 nonresident pharmacy permits outstanding. According to the Board of Pharmacy, approximately half of those are shipping compounded sterile products into Florida.

Prior to the events at NECC, state boards of pharmacy were under the mistaken assumption that their sister boards were appropriately regulating and inspecting these pharmacies. However, it turns out that many of the inspections were conducted by inadequately trained staff, or the staff was misled as to exactly what was going on at the pharmacy.

Many of the pharmacies wrongly informed the state inspectors that they were registered with the FDA as a manufacturer and did not have to provide prescriptions during inspections. This led to largely unregulated production of compounded sterile medications and eventually the meningitis outbreak of 2012.

Florida Board of Pharmacy to Have More Oversight.

Frustrated with the general lack of oversight and the potential harm to Floridians, the Board is preparing to take additional steps to ensure that compounders are appropriately regulated.

Among the possible steps to be taken are:

1. Outsourcing nonresident pharmacy inspections to organizations like the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP);

2. Require personal inspection by a Florida Board-approved inspector prior to issuing or renewing a license (costs of the inspection would be paid by the permittee);

3. Training specialized compounding pharmacy inspectors; and

4. Creating a Verified Pharmacy Program in conjunction with the NABP and other state boards.

Ultimately, the result of the additional regulations will mean more rigorous compliance standards on both in and out-of-state compounding pharmacies.

New Permit Law for Florida Pharmacies that Compound Sterile Products.

The Florida Board of Pharmacy also recently announced a new law which will be required for pharmacies that compound sterile products. Effective September 23, 2013, Rule 64B16-28.100(8), Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.), requires most pharmacies that engage in the preparation of sterile compounded products in Florida to obtain a Special Sterile Compounding Permit. Pharmacies compounding sterile products under their current pharmacy permit may continue to do so, but must obtain the new Special Sterile Compounding Permit on or before March 21, 2014. To read more, click here.

These new standards will make it easier for authorities to quickly spot where tainted batches of medications were produced. It is important to regularly review the Board of Pharmacy rules and USP guidelines to ensure your facility is compliant.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Investigations of Pharmacies and Pharmacists.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to pharmacies, pharmacists and other health providers in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations, Medicare investigations, Medicaid investigations and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Comments?

Have you heard of these new possible pharmacy regulations? How will this affect you or your pharmacy? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Lee, Jaimy. “Bill Boosting FDA Authority Over Compounding Pharmacies Heads to Obama.” Modern Healthcare. (November 18, 2013). From: http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20131118/NEWS/311189973/bill-boosting-fda-authority-over-compounding-pharmacies-heads-to?utm_source=frontpage&utm_medium=newsitem309&utm_campaign=carousel-traffic

Perrone, Matthew. “Pharmacy Bill Set for Test Vote in Senate.” Washington Post. (November 11, 2013). From: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/pharmacy-bill-set-for-test-vote-in-senate/2013/11/11/a961c958-4b25-11e3-9890-a1e0997fb0c0_story.html

About the Author: Lance O. Leider is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Recall Alert: FDA Warns Steroid Injections Compounded by Tennessee Pharmacy May Be Contaminated

6 Indest-2008-3By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent out a warning to health care professionals that steroid injections compounded by Main Street Family Pharmacy, LLC, in Tennessee, may be contaminated. The announcement came on May 24, 2013. So far, seven patients have allegedly suffered adverse reactions from the medications. The FDA says it is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Tennessee Board of Pharmacy to investigate. The steroid injections were allegedly sent to 13 states, including Florida.

To read the press release from the FDA, click here.

Steroid Injections Recalled.

According to an article in the Associated Press, officials have not yet confirmed the products are contaminated. The FDA is treating all sterile products from Main Street Family Pharmacy as if they were contaminated as a precaution. The pharmacy has agreed to recall all of its sterile products. Click here to read the Associated Press article.

The injections in question allegedly contain the same drug at the center of the October 2012, deadly fungal meningitis outbreak. More than 55 people, including five in Florida were killed and 740 others were sickened after receiving contaminated injections from a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy. I previously blogged about that outbreak. To read more, click here.

Patients in North Carolina and Illinois Allegedly Reacted to Injections.

Federal authorities have allegedly identified seven cases of patients who have suffered complications after being injected with the potentially contaminated medications. There are five cases in Illinois and two cases in North Carolina. The Illinois patients supposedly have skin infections and one patient in North Carolina allegedly suffered from a fungal infection.

Florida Department of Health Working to Contain Allegedly Tainted Injections Statewide.

According to the Florida Department of Health (DOH), at least three Florida facilities received the drugs under investigation. Two of the facilities are in Melbourne, Florida, and one is in Chipley, Florida. The Florida DOH says it is not aware of any local cases of infections from these drugs.

To read the press release from the Florida DOH, click here.

Previous Florida Case of Contaminated Medication.

We have previously blogged about the problems encountered by Franck’s pharmacy in Ocala, Florida. It has been accused of distributing eye medications that contained a fungal infection. Click here for the first blog and here for the second blog on this.

Congress Debating on Giving Authority Over Compounding Pharmacies to FDA.

Currently, compounding pharmacies are regulated by state pharmacy boards. There is currently legislation moving through Congress that would give the FDA direct authority over the compounding manufacturers. The goal is to prevent any national outbreaks tied to compounded medications.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Pharmacies and Pharmacists.

The Health Law Firm represents pharmacists and pharmacies in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections and audits. The firm’s attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sound Off.

Do you think each state should be responsible for regulating compounding pharmacies, or do you think the FDA should be responsible? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Gentry, Carol. “FL Got Drugs Linked to New Outbreak.” Health News Florida. (May 24, 2013). From: http://health.wusf.usf.edu/post/fl-got-drugs-linked-new-outbreak

Kelly, Christopher. “FDA Alerts Health Care Providers of Adverse Reactions Associated with Steroid Injections from Main Street Family Pharmacy in Tennessee.” Food and Drug Administration (May 24, 2013). From: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm353941.htm

Stobbe, Mike and Loller, Travis. “FDA Warns of Infections Tied to Tennessee Pharmacy.” The Associated Press. (May 24, 2013). From: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=186473297

Florida Department of Health. “The Florida Department of Health Partners with Federal and State Health Organizations to Ward of Adverse Reactions Associated with Steroid Injections.” Florida Department of Health. (May 24, 2013). From: http://newsroom.doh.state.fl.us/wp-content/uploads/newsroom/2013/05/052413CDCinfection.pdf

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999. 

Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.