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New Bills Could Limit Access to Natural, Compounded Drugs

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Millions rely on compounding pharmacies for natural hormones and other critical drugs. Will we lose them to a congressional/FDA power play?

About 14,000 patients received injections in the spine for back pain using steroids from the New England Compounding Center (NECC), based in Framingham, Massachusetts. According to the US Centers for Disease Control, 214 fungal meningitis cases in ten states have been connected to the injections, with the bulk of them in Tennessee (53), Michigan (41), Virginia (34), and Indiana (28). As of Monday, fifteen people have died.

Compounding pharmacies are terribly important to the integrative health community for several reasons. They combine or alter ingredients to create custom drugs that meet the specific needs of individual patients, such as a smaller dose or the removal of an ingredient that might trigger an allergy in a patient.

Very importantly, they also make compounded bioidentical hormones such as the estriol so many women take instead of dangerous synthetic estrogen replacement products like Prempro or Premarin. There are also complete thyroid products and many others. Compounders may also put natural hormones in a cream to be applied to the skin, which is by far the best way to take them. For some reason, drug companies generally put them into pills that must go through the stomach and liver system, which may change hormones in undesirable ways.

The bad steroid shots were different and do not fit this model. They were mass produced and somehow became tainted with fungus. Some older patients (the median age of those affected is 68) have experienced fungal meningitis symptoms, including headache, fever, stiff neck, and sensitivity to light, a few have suffered strokes, and some have died. This is a terrible tragedy that should never have occurred.

According to Reuters
, emails to a customer indicate that the center sold drugs to doctors without seeing proof of individual patient' prescriptions as required by Massachusetts law. However, it is not illegal for healthcare providers to buy in bulk from licensed pharmacies like NECC, so further investigation will be necessary before we know all the facts in this case.

From a natural medicine perspective, one also has to ask: why are doctors injecting powerful steroids into the backs of elderly people? Ostensibly for pain relief. But is this a safe or effective or lasting approach to pain relief? One thing we know for sure is that such powerful steroids are very hard on the bones, so is it sensible to inject something like this right into the spine? No one in the mainstream media to our knowledge is asking these questions-or is likely to.