Following Contaminated Injections, State Bill Would Increase Restrictions on Pharmacies
A "deadly spate of infections" in May resulting from contaminated steroid injections at a Walnut Creek pharmacy "has spurred" a bill that would bolster state inspection and oversight of pharmacies, the Contra Costa Times reports. Three people died and 13 were hospitalized after receiving the contaminated medications from the pharmacy, prompting state Sens. Tom Torlakson (D-Antioch) and Liz Figueroa (D-Fremont) to introduce SB 293. Under the measure, $700,000 would be allocated to add six new positions for the California State Pharmacy Board, which has 19 inspectors responsible for overseeing 6,000 pharmacies. The board currently has a two-year backlog of inspections. The bill would also require pharmacies to "obtain a special license to perform sterile compounding procedures," the process of mixing and preparing injectable materials, which are "especially potent" because they enter the bloodstream directly. "I want to make sure this never happens again. We need regulations to ensure that medications produced this way are safe," Torlakson said. Peter Kellison, legislative advocate for the California Pharmacists Association, said the organization agreed to place sterile compounding for injections under "greater scrutiny." But noting that lawmakers will only be in session from Aug. 20 until mid-September, he "questioned" whether an agreement could be reached in that period, adding, "We are approaching the last month of the legislative session, and this is a very late start to a very complicated policy issue" (LaMar, Contra Costa Times, 7/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.