Tales of competition through regulation III: pharma v. compounding pharmacies

by Walter Olson on March 4, 2013

Compounding pharmacies, which mix medications to order, are a corner of the drug business that has been much less heavily regulated than mass-manufacturing drug companies. As a result, the compounders began expanding their market presence as against the mass manufacturers, and even get into mass manufacturing methods themselves. The process accelerated in the past few years after tightened FDA control of conventional makers’ production practices (under GMP, or Good Manufacturing Practice, regulation) began to result in widespread production-line suspensions; for hospitals and other users, the availability of compounded alternatives is often the only fallback in the face of shortages.

Unfortunately, poor quality control at some compounders resulted in a series of fiascos culminating in a meningitis outbreak. Now the Washington Post reports that major drug companies are seizing the chance to hobble their competition by pressing for maximally burdensome regulation of compounders, including the addition of regulations unrelated to safety, such as rules aimed at restricting the compounding of formulas that imitate the action of patented products. Hospitals, which sometimes engage in compounding themselves to obtain medication for their patients, say overregulation could worsen the problem of drug shortages. [Kimberly Kindy and Lena Sun, Washington Post] Earlier on drug shortages here, here, etc.

{ 1 comment }

1 DensityDuck 03.04.13 at 8:51 pm

“major drug companies are seizing the chance to hobble their competition by pressing for maximally burdensome regulation of compounders”

That language is so slanted it’s about to fall over.

What “major drug companies” are “seizing the chance” to do is to get the FDA to stop pretending that compounding pharmacies are nothing but 1950s-era holdouts that serve tiny local markets.

You could say “the regulation applied to the pharmaceutical production industry is too tight” and you might be right, but acting as though this is Evil Big Pharma Being Jerks is selling out your intellect for the cheap thrill of a Two Minutes Hate.

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