Carelessness at the New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts recently put compounding pharmacies in the spotlight. Regulators allege that NECC skirted existing state and federal laws, resulting in a meningitis outbreak.
Every pharmacist in America is trained to compound medicines. More than half of all local pharmacies provide specialized compounding services. Approximately 7,500 local pharmacies and 8,200 hospital and health institution pharmacies in this country engage in compounding. Oklahoma compounding pharmacists prepare drugs for people who can't take conventional medications. They customize cancer medications, produce specialized drugs for children with autism and make intravenous solutions.
Compounding pharmacists fill the needs of patients that can't be met by off-the-shelf, manufactured medications. These prescribed medications are prepared under strictly controlled conditions by specially trained compounding pharmacists.
Oklahoma has rigorous state laws governing the practice of pharmacy. The Oklahoma State Board of Pharmacy is an advocate for patient safety and regulates more than 1,200 pharmacies. Three years ago, the board took steps to further protect citizens by adding extensive new product rules to Oklahoma's Pharmacy Practice Act. The amended rules require that all compounding pharmacies in Oklahoma adhere and follow strict regulations set forth by the board.
The NECC case has led to calls for the Food and Drug Administration to step up pharmacy regulation. Fortunately, Oklahoma has taken proactive steps by implementing increased state regulations and adopting the professional standards issued by the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention.
Oklahoma is ahead of the curve in protecting consumer safety, and will continue to work with state and federal officials to ensure the strength, quality and purity of all medications.
Woodward is executive director of the Oklahoma Pharmacists Association.