By Matt Barry
The FDA could credibly and vigorously oversee compounding pharmacies, one of whose tainted steroids led to nearly 500 cases of meningitis and more than 30 deaths in 19 states.
But it’s easy to see who could deliver more oversight of compounding pharmacies. The bigger problem is how to pay for it.
Bloomberg Government analyst Brian Rye points out that our fiscally austere times are about to get worse, especially if you are a government agency. Adding compounding pharmacy supervision to its tasks comes with a cost to tax payers, pharmacists and patients.
The FDA has many responsibilities and limited funds. Regulating compounding pharmacies means money will have to come from food safety, drug facility inspections, or some other important public health task.
The question of whether or not we tumble off the fiscal cliff or reach a budget deal, or both, can’t disguise the reality that the FDA needs more money if it is to do more work.
This problem symbolizes the hard choices facing elected officials. Priorities will have to be set and sacrifices will have to be made.
If Congress sees a need to act on compounding pharmacies – to protect public health or their political posteriors – members will have to answer that multi-million dollar question.
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Matt Barry is the Bloomberg Government health analyst team leader, with a focus on Medicare, Medicaid, public health and prevention issues. Barry has more than 20 years of health policy experience in the executive and legislative branches of the federal government, non-profits, private consulting and public affairs firms. He has worked on payment and access issues under Medicare and Medicaid, tobacco control policy, rural health care, and childhood immunization policy.
Brian Rye is a health-care financial analyst with Bloomberg Government. He spent 12 years as an equity research analyst at SunTrust, Raymond James and Janney Montgomery Scott. In those capacities, he followed biotech, pharmaceutical and other health-care companies. Rye also served as a senior business management analyst for Booz Allen Hamilton’s civil health group. He received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Vanderbilt University and holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.