N.J. wants better regulation of compounding pharmacies in wake of meningitis fatalities

A bill in the New Jersey Legislature would require compounding pharmacies that mix custom medications to earn accreditation through one of several national boards.

In the wake of a meningitis outbreak across several states last year, the bill focuses on sterile compounding.

Sterile compounding requires special conditions for the preparation of custom medications for patients. Labs use expensive hood systems. Pharmacists and technicians are draped in full-body gowns, wearing masks and gloves as they prep things such as eye drops, nasal sprays, and injections.

The process is too expensive for small pharmacies but possible for large compounding centers, says bill sponsor Sen. Jeff Van Drew, a dentist.

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He says accreditation is needed for the public’s safety.

“There are probably 99 percent of the compounding pharmacies out there that are doing everything 100 percent right,” said Van Drew, D-Atlantic. “But that 1 percent matters, and that 1 percent has to be done correctly. Otherwise, people are going to become very ill.”

For now, regulation of New Jersey compounding pharmacies falls under the state pharmacy board.

Last year, 45 deaths in 20 states were tied to tainted medications from a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy.

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