Rx Risks: Drug compounding laws questioned by meningitis victims - Chicago News and Weather | FOX 32 News

Rx Risks: Drug compounding laws questioned by meningitis victims

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

With 32 deaths and 438 cases spread across 19 states, the meningitis outbreak linked to a drug compounding center in Massachusetts continues to grow. At least one of the victims says increased federal regulations could have prevented the batch of tainted steroids from the New England Compounding Center.

"I think the government needs to step in more than what they're doing because to me, this was not right," Vilinda York said. The former Ottawa, Illinois resident has spent the last two months in a hospital in Florida, where she now lives. She nearly died after receiving tainted steroid shots in her back.

Drug compounding is common and the definition is broad. It can be anything from a pharmacist adding flavor to a medicine, to mixing drugs, to re-sizing pills. But, it's a practice that's not strictly regulated by the federal government.

Lincoln Park's Braun Pharmacare has been compounding for years. They are in no way linked to the meningitis outbreak and they are much smaller than the massive drug compounding center linked to the outbreak. Co-owner Brett Pine says he could go along with increased regulations--to a point. Pine says he already pays to have an outside chemical company test his company's medicines to ensure they're safe and exactly what the customer needs.

"It allows us to know what we're doing and dispensing is exactly what it's labeled as, and what it's supposed to be. They test it thoroughly from impurities to sterility to longevity expiration," Pine said.

Pine says too much regulation could crush compounders, especially small, neighborhood operations like Braun Pharmacare.

"I think that it's a cross between some common sense and some more regulations that are potentially needed," Pine said.

York says the federal government needs to do more to regulate compounders. But for now, as she continues her recovery, she says she's mostly concerned about her fellow victims--especially those who lost their lives.

"It bothers me that something like this has to happen," she said.

The New England Compounding Center has recalled all of the drugs it has shipped this year.

If you want to see if any of your medicines have been recalled, visit the FDA's site.

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