Indiana Pharmacies That Mix Drugs Not Regulated By FDA

Pharmacies can legally mix medicines, but some pharmacies produce them on large scales without federal regulation.

At the Pharmacy 1 Express in Bloomington, pharmacist Joe Branham crushes tablets and adds other ingredients–a process known as compounding in which licensed pharmacists can legally combine different drugs to personalize medicine for patients.

The Indiana Board of Pharmacy is in charge of regulating these kinds of pharmacies, and Branham says his is inspected on a regular basis.

“The board sends an inspector around usually once a year,” he says. “It varies. I don’t know if there is a hard and fast rule, but they look for different things. You can see on my balance maybe back there. Monroe County Weights and Measures comes by and makes sure my scale is balanced and works correctly.”

Branham says he only mixes medicine on a very small scale, unlike the pharmacy in Massachusetts that recently distributed more than 17,000 tainted steroid vials that has caused an outbreak of meningitis throughout several states.

“You’re getting a product that’s made up specifically for you that’s ordered by your doctor that we make when it’s ordered,” Branham says. “We do have some little guys on medication that we make up every month and we actually have them call in a couple days in advance, so I’m not making up a huge batch. I’m making it each time, each and every time.”

Companies that make larger batches are regulated differently, but they are still not regulated by federal officials like drug manufacturers are.

In a statement, the Indiana Board of Pharmacy says compounding is safe when done properly. The board also emphasized that it monitors all compounding pharmacies shipping medicines into the state.

Indiana Board Of Pharmacy Statement On Compounding Pharmacies
Gretchen Frazee

Gretchen Frazee is a reporter/producer for WFIU and WTIU news. Prior to her current role, Frazee worked as the associate online content coordinator for WFIU/WTIU. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia where she studied multimedia journalism and anthropology. You can follow her on Twitter @gretchenfrazee.

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