"Treat the disease, you win some, you lose some. Treat the patient, you always win."
~Patch Adams~

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Compounding Pharmacies

You have no doubt heard a lot about compounding pharmacies in the news the last couple weeks.  My heart and thoughts go out to those affected by the contaminated spinal injections from the New England Compounding Center in MA ------ what happened was a terrible tragedy.  As someone who has had back injections in years past, it scared me and I understand how concerning it is to those of us who depend on compounding pharmacies for our bioidentical hormones. 

Important to remember that this was one pharmacy, not all compounding pharmacies as the media would like you to believe.  From my reading, the NECC went way beyond the scope of compounding into manufacturing, and the contaminated drug was something that was already readily commercially available and has been for years.  New England Compounding Center violated the scope of their pharmaceutical license, and they should and have been shut down.  For most of us who take our hormones transdermally (creams), intramuscularly (injections) or by pellet therapy, the body has natural defense barriers for contamination.  Those barriers to not exist for medications injected directly into the spinal coloumn. 

Also, the mainstream media is hyped up about how the FDA needs to crack down on compounding pharmacies.  The FDA stands for FOOD and DRUG ADMINISTRATION.  Their job is not to oversee pharmacies period, compounding or your local big box pharmacy.  That is the purpose of the state pharmaceutical boards, and they are collectively represented by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacies (NABP).  Click here for their mission statement and purpose. 

I am frequently asked how to find a compounding pharmacy in a particular area.  The Professional Compounding Centers of America lists their mission as:

PCCA’s mission is to strengthen the role, position and skills of member compounding pharmacists so they can meet the unique health care needs of patients through our exceptional service, highest-quality products, shared innovations and education.

I use their "find a compounder" tool frequently to help people find an independent compounding pharmacy in their area.  Every compounding pharmacy I have used for my hormones is a member of PCCA.

The Professional Compounding Accreditation Board (PCAB) is a group started in 2006 (thereabouts) to try to bring some order to the standards for independent compounding pharmacies.  Not all compounding pharmacies are PCAB accredited, and in fact, I understand from talking to several compounding pharmacists that the process is quite rigorous.  Only a handful of compounding pharmacies in each state are at this point accredited by PCAB, but my guess is that this number will increase over the next few years as compounding pharmacies a) become more popular with the increase in use of bioidenticals, and b) compounding pharmacies come under greater scrutiny by the public.  PCAB has a link to assist you in finding an accredited pharmacy in your area.  They also have a great page of information for consumers that is well worth taking the time to read. 

The International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists (IACP) lists their mission as: 

 to protect, promote and advance the art and science of pharmacy compounding. (IACP website)
They also have a  site for consumers  P2C2 (Patients and Professionals for Customized Care).  You can join their mailing list by clicking here, and/or their Facebook page here.

I hope this information helps; I know it's a lot to absorb and it can get very confusing.  However, it's worth the effort to research the issue, after all, this is your health we are talking about and compounded medications and hormones are every bit as powerful as any other medication we put in our bodies. It's important to be safe.