EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 6, 2012

State closes Bradford pharmacy, 2 others

By Matt Murphy
State House News Service

---- — BOSTON — The Patrick administration yesterday ordered three pharmacies closed, including one in Haverhill, for the improper preparation and storage of drugs.

Inspectors began unannounced spot checks of compounding pharmacies last month as part of the emergency response to tainted steroids traced back to a Framingham pharmacy — New England Compounding Center — responsible for a deadly nationwide outbreak of fungal meningitis.

The Board of Pharmacy issued a cease-and-desist notice to OncoMed Pharmaceuticals in Waltham the day before Thanksgiving due to problems found related to the storage of chemotherapy drugs, and is currently working with the lab on a corrective plan, according to the Department of Public Health.

Pallimed Solutions Pharmacy in Boston was also ordered to stop production of sildenafil citrate, a drug used in Viagra and other brand-name treatments for erectile dysfunction, after inspectors found they had been preparing and distributing the medication using improper components.

A third pharmacy — The Whittier Pharmacist in the Bradford section of Haverhill — was ordered to cease operations until changes were made to bring its sterile compounding operations into compliance with federal standards.

So far, the board has conducted spot checks on more than a dozen pharmacies, finding other “minor deficiencies” that have been corrected or are currently being addressed, according to the Department of Public Health.

New England Compounding Center was found to be in violation of the state’s distribution regulations, shipping large quantities of compounded steroids to other states without specific patient prescriptions.

Unsanitary conditions were also discovered at the lab, contributing to the tainted drugs infecting 541 patients to date and leading to 36 deaths in 19 states. The Board of Pharmacy permanently revoked NECC’s license to operate in Massachusetts, and criminal investigations are ongoing.