Surprise state inspections at 37 specialty pharmacies in Massachusetts show that only four have been fully complying with industry safety standards, health officials announced Tuesday, a finding that underscores concerns about the risk of drug contamination.
All 37 are similar to the Framingham compounding pharmacy blamed for the fatal outbreak of fungal meningitis last year.
Serious violations of state pharmacy regulations were found in 11 compounders, prompting the state to temporarily shut down all or part of their operations, while 21 others were cited for more minor violations. The state previously announced that Infusion Resource of Waltham surrendered its license in October after inspectors found “significant issues” in the clean rooms where sterile injectable drugs were prepared.
The Department of Public Health began the inspections in October after New England Compounding Center’s tainted steroids were linked last fall to meningitis and other infections that have sickened nearly 700 people across the country and been blamed for 45 deaths.
Patient safety specialists, who have long advocated for stricter oversight of the industry nationwide, say they are not surprised that only a fraction of the state’s sterile compounding pharmacies, which make injectable and intravenous medications, were obeying all the rules.
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