If the old adage there is no such thing as bad press applies, then the recent slams on compounding pharmacy may also help to shed a light on all the positive that comes from the individualized and personal care that compounding pharmacies provide. In recent news, investigative reports have uncovered case examples of pharmacy owners and pharmacist succumbing to greedy tactics, disregarding standards of quality and patient care, in order to make a quick buck. These bad apples, however, do not represent the whole of compounding pharmacies.
Citing recent news, New England Compounding Center, based in Framingham Massachusetts, was accused of negligence leading to an outbreak of fungal meningitis caused by contaminated methylprednisolone injections. Earlier this year, news sources exposed compounding pharmacies marketing directly to military personnel in order to sell them on signing up to receive free or low cost topical pain management therapy that would be billed directly to Tricare (healthcare benefits provider). It became obvious to Tricare and later the public that in some instances Tricare was charged for treatment that the patient never received and/or patients were receiving drugs from physician’s they never even heard of. These isolated examples have sadly clouded the true benefit that comes from the individualized care that patient’s receive when they work closely with their healthcare provider and compounding pharmacists.
Now that the lens has been focused on this field of healthcare, compounding pharmacies should take this opportunity to highlight the real value of their work. Patients with allergies, for example, find an ally in compounding pharmacist. Together they work to formulate drug products that the patient will be able to safely ingest. Similarly, pediatricians find compounding services invaluable since their most complex cases may include a developmentally challenged patient refusing to eat or take their medicine. Compounding labs can formulate their drug in a cherry lollipop that they don’t say NO to! Lastly, examples of life saving preparations that require the knowledge and training of a compounding lab can also be cited. Agents like vancomycin, exclusively compounded for the treatment of sometimes life-threatening C difficile intestinal infections, or Makena (17-Hydroxyprogesterone caproate) a compounded agent used to lower the risk of preterm birth, thus increasing the likelihood of pregnant women delivering a full-term and healthy baby. These are but a few examples of how compounding pharmacist make a real different in their patient’s lives and quality of care.
Moving forward, if compounding pharmacies use these recent misfortunate events to galvanize against unscrupulous practices that can only further tarnish its reputation and instead use this moment to bring attention to the value that comes from the goods and services they provide, then perhaps the field of compounded medicine can again be recognized as the paragon of pharmaceutical care that it has, throughout history, represented.