BOSTON Dec 6 Massachusetts regulators on
Thursday continued their crackdown on pharmacies in the wake of
a deadly meningitis outbreak, announcing sanctions on three
companies while recasting an oversight board that has been
criticized for being too lax.
Massachusetts pharmacy operations have been under close
scrutiny since New England Compounding Center, a specialty
pharmacy, shipped thousands of vials of a tainted steroid to
medical facilities throughout the United States. According to
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 36 people have
died and 541 have been injured from injections of
methylprednisolone acetate, a drug typically used to ease back
Massachusetts regulators said they ordered the temporary
shutdown of one pharmacy, Oncomed Pharmaceuticals, on Nov. 21,
over concerns about how it stored chemotherapy drugs. It also
ordered partial shutdowns of Pallimed Solutions, after it used
improper components in preparing one drug, and the Whittier
Pharmacist for violations in its sterile compounding operations.
All three pharmacies are working with regulators and are
expected to reopen once the concerns are addressed, said David
Kibbe, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Public
Health. Representatives of the three pharmacies could not be
reached for immediate comment.
The DPH also announced three new members to fill seats on
the Massachusetts pharmacy board. Unlike past appointments, the
new board members are not necessarily pharmacists. The new picks
are executives from a large healthcare system, a large health
insurer and a rehabilitation and skilled nursing center.
"These respected health care professionals will use their
experience to bring change to the Board of Pharmacy to enhance
our oversight of this industry," Interim Commissioner Lauren
Smith said in a press release. "We expect additional changes to
the board after the Commission on Pharmacy Compounding issues
its recommendations to Governor Deval Patrick at the end of the
This week, the Massachusetts Board of Pharmacy held a public
hearing on emergency regulations that were put in place by
Patrick's administration to enhance monitoring and scrutiny of
the compounding industry.