October 27, 2012

Compounding pharmacies in Maine differ from Massachusetts

State officials say Maine compounding pharmacies are nothing like the one that's under fire in the Bay State for a meningitis outbreak.

By Eric Russell erussell@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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In this Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012 file photo, laboratory technician Ruth Rutledge packages cerebrospinal fluid of three confirmed meningitis cases in Minn., to send to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta for further testing, at the Minnesota Department of Health in St. Paul, Minn. The black mold has crept into the spines of hundreds of people who got tainted shots for back pain — killing at least 24 of them. (AP Photo/Hannah Foslien)

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In Maine, 31 providers received other products from New England Compounding Center, but not the steroid.

The outbreak is not the first time a steroid made by such a pharmacy has caused fungal meningitis in people receiving spinal steroid injections, The Associated Press reported. Five similar cases, including one fatality in 2002, were traced to one pharmacy in South Carolina that had been shipping its products to five states.

Inspectors found contaminated vials and a lack of quality controls or sterility testing at the pharmacy, according to the AP.

Nationwide, contamination at compounding facilities has occurred regularly. Last year, at least 33 patients suffered fungal eye infections traced to products made by a compounding pharmacy in Ocala, Fla., the AP reported.

At least a dozen more patients were blinded or damaged in an outbreak linked to a facility in Hollywood, Fla. And in Alabama, nine people died after taking a tainted intravenous nutritional supplement made by a compounder in Birmingham.

Recent events aside, McAuliffe said, compounding is "an important and necessary part of servicing the public.

"What happened is a tragedy, obviously, but what I hope comes out of this is a proper federal review of different compounding pharmacies," he said.

 

Staff Writer Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

erussell@mainetoday.com

Twitter: @PPHEricRussell

 

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