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Thu November 15, 2012
Compounding Industry Opposes New Laws
The top lobbyist for compounding pharmacies is preparing to tell members of Congress that more federal oversight is not needed for his industry, in the wake of a deadly meningitis outbreak tied to contaminated medications.
Testimony released ahead of a Senate hearing on the outbreak shows that the head of the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacies will tell lawmakers that current regulations are adequate to police specialty pharmacies.
More than 460 people have been sickened by contaminated steroid shots distributed by New England Compounding Center, and more than 32 deaths have been reported.
The Senate panel is meeting one day after a similar hearing in the House to consider new restrictions on compounding pharmacies, which currently operate in a legal gray area between state and federal regulation. In the House hearing, Barry Cadden, co-founder of the New England Compounding Center, told lawmakers he would use his Fifth Amendment right to not answer questions in order to avoid self-incrimination.
After repeated questions by House lawmakers, Cadden told the House Energy and Commerce Committee: "Under advice of counsel, I respectfully decline to answer under basis of my constitutional rights and privileges, including the Fifth Amendment."
An analogous investigation into the outbreak is underway in Massachusetts. Lawmakers on Beacon Hill held a hearing on Nov. 14 to scrutinize the state pharmacy board’s dealings with the Framingham-based New England Compounding Center.
During the hearing, Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary Judith Bigby, whose department oversees the board, testified that the board of pharmacy had not adequately handled the situation.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.