Clipboard: Lawmakers cut money to boost pharmacies inspections following outbreak

After failures at a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy caused hundreds of people to be sickened by tainted drugs, state officials called for better oversight of the industry and Governor Deval Patrick pledged an additional $1 million to help the Department of Public Health conduct routine inspections. But that money has been cut from the Senate’s proposed budget, prompting Rachel Zimmerman, of WBUR’s CommonHealth blog to ask, “Really?”

Fifty-five people died from fungal meningitis or other infections after receiving drugs produced at New England Compounding Center in Framingham. Nearly 700 more became ill. The outbreak prompted hearings on Beacon Hill and in Washington, D.C., and a reworking of rules regulating compounding pharmacies.

Inspectors hired with the money put forth in the governor’s budget would be charged with making sure those pharmacies comply.

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Boston University law professor Kevin Outterson writes on The Incidental Economist blog:

[I]t comes as a surprise that the Governor’s requested budget was cut to zero by the Massachusetts Senate Ways & Means FY 2014 proposed budget (4510-0772). Sen. Keenan has filed an amendment to restore about $600,000 for additional compounding pharmacy inspections (proposed amendment 513 ), but it is not clear whether that amendment will pass or whether that amount is sufficient. Action by the US Congress may take some time, so it is up to the states to police compounding pharmacies until we get federal legislation.