TRENTON – Prompted by contaminated spinal steroid injections that have sickened 33 people in New Jersey, State Senator Jeff Van Drew has introduced legislation to strengthen the regulation of certain pharmacies that prepare customized versions of prescription medications for patients.
The measure (S-2365) would create stronger oversight and regulation of “compounding pharmacies,” which combine or modify ingredients to create customized medicine for patients. A compounder is the type of pharmacy which distributed tainted steroid medication from its facility in Massachusetts. To date, dozens of cases of fungal meningitis resulting from exposure to the drug have cropped up in Atlantic, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties. Nationally, the contaminated injections have been linked to 478 cases of meningitis (plus 12 peripheral joint infections) and 34 deaths, according to the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No deaths have been reported in New Jersey.
“Dozens of New Jersey residents and hundreds of people across the country were provided tainted steroid injections which resulted in their contracting fungal meningitis,” said Senator Van Drew (D-Cape May/Cumberland/Atlantic). “Sadly, this health crisis may have been prevented with better oversight and regulation of these particular types of pharmacies. While we cannot prevent the sale of contaminated medicines nationally, we can strengthen regulation of pharmacies operating in our own state. This will help to prevent local companies from distributing tainted medication and reduce the amount of harmful or potentially deadly concoctions circulating nationwide.”