Video: How Unregulated Compounding Pharmacies Led to the Deadly Outbreak of Meningitis

| by Michael Allen

The lack of federal regulation for compounding pharmacies led to people dying from meningitis, which was caused by a tainted drug from a compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts.

Compounding pharmacies, which mix or alter ingredients to create customized medicines for a specific patient, are rarely tested, unless someone is harmed or a complaint is filed, reports the New York Times.

A year ago, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) worried that compounding pharmacies across the country might be selling substandard drugs.

However, when the FDA asked for samples to test from compounding phramacies, the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists, a lobbying group for pharmacies, taught pharmacies how to sidestep FDA requests.

The New York Times reports:

In an e-mail to members, the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists suggested that they respond to any request for samples by saying: “We do not compound or distribute ‘samples’ of any of our prescription medications to anyone.” And if a compounded drug was on the premises, the trade group added, a pharmacist should say it was awaiting pickup by a patient.

CNN's Anderson Cooper recently reported on Sarah Sellers, who worked at a compounding pharmacy and testified on the unclean conditions back in 2003.

Sellers went on to work for the FDA to clean things up, but found that the FDA wasn't interested in publishing guidelines for compounding pharmacies due to political pressure and political money donated from the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists (video below).