November 2, 2012

Drug shortage resulting from recall of meds

Many hospital pharmacies, including those in Maine, are being forced to compound their own medications or use other drugs to treat patients.

By Eric Russell
Staff Writer

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Watson at Maine Medical Center said the recall affected six products and his staff has taken on more in-house compounding.

Jill McDonald, spokeswoman for Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, said Thursday that the recall has forced the hospital to compound more medications on site. She said the hospital may stop buying compounded products altogether in light of the problems with the New England Compounding Center and Ameridose.

Compounding refers to the practice of blending pharmaceuticals to produce medications that are not commercially available. Most hospital pharmacists can do it, but they also rely on companies such as Ameridose because of the time and resources it takes to compound.

Compounding facilities such as Ameridose can produce medications that don't expire quickly. When compounding is done on a smaller scale, the medications expire more quickly, so products are sometimes wasted.

Maine has companies that compound medications for use by hospitals and medical practices, but the compounding is generally done to meet a specific prescription, not to produce mass quantities to be shipped to hospitals and health care practices.

McCall and Watson said Ameridose has been a good supplier and they hope the shutdown is temporary.

"I've only dealt with two compounding facilities and they have both been in the news recently," McCall said. "I think it's put a lot more scrutiny on the industry, but that's good. The places that are operating above board should have nothing to worry about."

Watson said Maine Medical Center uses two other compounding companies. He will continue using both, but said neither is in a position to fill the void left by Ameridose. 

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

Twitter: @PPHEricRussell


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