Bad drugs?

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, August 15, 2013


Pharmacist eases local concerns about compound drug investigation

The Food and Drug Administration is helping with a voluntary recall of some compound drugs after 15 patients contracted bacterial infections believed to be associated with calcium gluconate injections – medication given to people with low calcium or high potassium levels.

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Specialty Compounding, LLC, a subsidiary of Peoples Pharmacy, is located in Cedar Park, Texas and is recalling all lots of sterile medications within expiry.

Recalled products were distributed directly to hospitals and physician offices in Texas and were also sent directly to patients nationwide with the exception of North Carolina.

However, patients at Troy Regional Medical Center have nothing to worry about.

“There are some issues with the sterility of compound drugs,” said Beth Bell, director of pharmacy at TRMC. “We no longer use a compounding service for any of our drugs, at all.”

Bell said this isn’t the first time compounding drugs have been recalled in recent years. In Oct. 2012, at least 47 people in seven states were confirmed to have fungal meningitis that was linked to steroid injections from the New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts, according to the Center for Disease Control. At least five of those infected died.

Some hospitals and doctor’s office use compounding centers – facilities that take a pure form of a drug and combine it for medicinal use – because there are drug shortages, especially when it comes to cancer fighting medicines, Bell said.

Only injectable compound drugs have been brought into question due to sterility issues, Bell noted, however more drugs than just those linked to infections have the potential to be tainted simply because an infection was present at the facility.

“Anything that came from the facility during the period of time in question is susceptible of being contaminated,” Bell said.

If it has been two or more weeks since an injection, the likelihood of being infected due to the compound drug is low.

“You probably don’t have anything to worry about because an infection would have manifested by now,” Bell said.

However, anyone who has any concern about an injection they’ve gotten recently should call their healthcare provider.

“By now, everybody who has received any of the drugs in question should be aware that they received the recalled drug,” Bell said. “Providers will be happy to easy a patient’s mind. If anyone is concerned, go to a provider where you were treated and ask if anything from the compounding center could have affected me.”