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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Compound interest

Scott Brown may be facing his October Surprise with word he signed a letter of support for the compounding pharmacy industry.

It's not so much the $10,000 he received in a fund-raiser in the home of New England Compounding Center's executives. Brown wisely donated the cash to the Meningitis Foundation of America.

Rather, it's the fact Brown took the side of the industry in opposing the Drug Enforcement Administration's interpretation of law related to the shipment of controlled substances.

New England Compounding is at the heart of a scandal in which more than 100 people have contracted fungal meningitis -- and at least 14 have died -- as a result of tainted pharmaceuticals shipped nationwide in apparent violation of regulations.

Gov. Deval Patrick has said the company misled state regulators because it was only supposed to mix and deliver liquid steroids to relieve back pain directly to patients. Instead, it shipped its product to at least 23 states.

And it is the method of delivery which is at the heart of the industry's beef with the DEA.

The Globe reports:
For years, compounding pharmacies have delivered controlled substances, in bulk, to clinics, veterinarians, and other health facilities for use there, according to two specialists in the field. But in recent years, the DEA has interpreted federal law as requiring those pharmacies to deliver the drugs to ­patients whose names are on the prescription, or to owners, in the case of animals. The DEA argues that it is not a change in interpretation, enforcement, or policy and that agents pursue leads about violations when­ever they are known.
Brown and the industry contend the DEA is creating a safety concern because medical professionals are better equipped to handle controlled substances than individuals, an argument with some merit.

But the industry's standing to make that argument is severely compromised by the way it is operating in dispensing non-controlled substances like the steroid solutions. And there are clearly questions about the oversight of manufacturing process as well.

The issue, ultimately, is one of regulation -- and the Republican belief that industries ranging from pharmaceuticals to financial services don't need the heavy hand of government holding them down.

In the case of Wall Street, no one died but millions have been hurt by that attitude and the lack of Securities and Exchange Commission oversight. In this tragedy, questions are clearly raised about the Food and Drug Administration's oversight of the manufacturing and delivery process.

Brown clearly comes down industry over individual in both examples. And that's quite a contrast from the image he tries to present in his commercials attacking Elizabeth Warren for her work as a consumer advocate.

Can you say hypocrite?

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Blogger Ryan said...

Great story, but you should add a tweet button so I can more easily send it to my friends :)

October 13, 2012 7:25 AM  

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