Senate questions pharmacy boards after outbreak

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Associated Press

Posted on November 19, 2012 at 6:00 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 19 at 6:01 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Senate committee investigating a deadly outbreak of meningitis wants to know how regulators in all 50 states oversee specialty pharmacies like the one that triggered the illness.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions sent letters to all 50 state boards of pharmacy, seeking details about oversight of compounding pharmacies.

Contaminated injections from the New England Compounding Center have been blamed for an outbreak of fungal meningitis that has killed 33 people and sickened 480.

Compounding pharmacies, which mix customized medications based on prescriptions, are traditionally overseen by state pharmacy boards. But larger compounders like the NECC have emerged in the last decade, mass-producing thousands of vials of drugs that are shipped nationwide.

That trend has prompted calls for federal oversight by the Food and Drug Administration.

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