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What is Drug Compounding? How is it Associated With the Recent Meningitis Outbreak?

Injection

Drug compounding is under the spotlight after a deadly breakout of fungal meningitis has caused 12 deaths and 112 cases across 7 states, including North Carolina. All of the cases involve a steroid injection given to patients with back pain.

As ABC News reports, the specific strain causing the outbreak was produced at New England Compounding Center, a compounding pharmacy located in Framingham, Massachusetts. The FDA recently obtained a vile of the the steroid and levels of fungus were visible to the naked eye. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a government agency, has created a list of health care facilities which received the contaminated strain of steroid. You can view the whole list by clicking here. We have listed the facilities located in North Carolina below:

HIGH POINT SURGERY 336 878 6048 HIGH POINT NC
NORTH CAROLINA ORTHOPAEDIC CLINIC 919 403 5148 DURHAM NC
SURGERY CENTER OF WILSON 252-237-5649 WILSON NC

 

As you read above, the strain which is causing harm comes from a “compound pharmacy.” A compound pharmacy mixes different FDA approved drugs to create a drug for specific patient needs. In this case, a steroid was needed to ease the back pain of patients.

Where the spotlight comes in is the FDA’s role after the drugs have been combined. While all the ingredients being mixed are FDA approved, the final product of the mix is not required to be tested by the FDA. The process of making the compounded drug is regulated by the State Board of Pharmacy.

For more information on the Meningitis Outbreak, please view some of the articles below:

Florida meningitis death, US total now 12 (UPI.com)

Meningitis outbreak highlights failed oversignt efforts (CNN)

Calls for oversight grow as U.S. meningitis death toll mounts (Reuters)

What is meningitis? (Medical News Today)

Video from ABC News:


*Photo courtesy of yanivba via Flickr Creative Commons.

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