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.
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.
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.
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