It’s no secret that healthcare is big business. The medication aspect alone reveals staggering figures — the global pharmaceutical industry is worth $300 billion a year with the largest drug companies controlling over one-third of the market and several reporting sales of more than $10 billion a year. Not counting mail order pharmacies, almost 3.9 billion retail prescription drugs were filled at U.S. pharmacies in 2013 with over 122 million of those filled here in Georgia.
Pharmacist: Drug Maker or Dispenser?
Subscribing to the philosophy that one size does not fit all, compounding pharmacies cater to individuals who need customized medications in various dosage formats. Compounding allows doctors to prescribe medication specific to their patient’s individual needs instead of only having access to standardized, commercially available dosages, strengths and forms, including capsules, creams, gels, tablets, lozenges and suppositories.
At one time, making compounds was a fundamental part of a pharmacist’s daily duties. Even into the 1930s and 1940s, more than half of U.S. prescriptions were compounded by pharmacists. Compounding rapidly declined with the advent of mass drug manufacturing, and the pharmacist’s role as preparer morphed into one as dispenser.
Compounding Pharmacy Errors
Many people first heard of compounding pharmacies in 2012 when an outbreak of fungal meningitis was traced to fungal contamination in three lots of steroid injections made and marketed by the New England Compounding Center. The tainted injections affected 20 states, sickened over 700 patients and killed 64 people. This was not an isolated incident.
The Pew Charitable Trusts has identified over 25 pharmacy compounding errors associated with 1,049 adverse events, including 89 deaths, since 2001.
Regulation of Compounding Pharmacies in Georgia
Requirements aimed at keeping batches of compounded drugs from becoming contaminated vary from state to state, though compounding pharmacies who want to pay to ensure that they are in compliance with a set of standards can seek endorsement through the Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC).
Taking a drug to alleviate symptoms or cure an illness should not cause its own serious injury or death. Having pharmaceuticals properly prepared, labeled, stored, dispensed and delivered is essential, yet registration with the Food and Drug Administration is not mandatory for the 3,000 compounding pharmacies in the nation.
It’s time to hold these outsourcing facilities responsible for careless practices that put harmful products on the market. If you have any questions about this topic, feel free to contact personal injury lawyer David Mann by calling (478) 742-3381 or filling out a free case evaluation form.