Health | Oregon | Vital Signs

Oregon Official: 800 Pharmacies Are Safe, Sufficiently Regulated

OPB | Oct. 10, 2012 12:26 p.m. | Updated: June 7, 2013 10:22 a.m.

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The head of the Oregon Board of Pharmacy says the 800 pharmacies in the state are safe and sufficiently regulated. This follows news that 12 Americans have died from an outbreak of fungal meningitis linked to contaminated steroid injections

Gary Schnabel is the  executive director of the Oregon Board of Pharmacy.  He says the state has five inspectors who try to check every pharmacy, every year. 

Map of Healthcare Facilities which Received Three Lots* of Methylprednisolone Acetate (PF) Recalled from New England Compounding Center on September 26, 2012. Click to enlarge.

Map of Healthcare Facilities which Received Three Lots* of Methylprednisolone Acetate (PF) Recalled from New England Compounding Center on September 26, 2012. Click to enlarge.

CDC

There have been no cases of fungal meningitis in Oregon, but the outbreak has been linked to a compounding pharmacy. That is a pharmacy that makes small batches of medications.  In this case, it was a steroid without a preservative, to be injected into the spine to stop pain.  Schnabel says he’s comfortable with the safety of Oregon’s pharmacies. 

Schnabel explained, “We hear stories of things that happen in other states and we cringe. And we hope it’s not happening in Oregon. We’re pretty sure it’s not.”

Persons with Meningitis Linked to Epidural Steroid Injections, by State as of Oct. 10, 2012. Click to enlarge.

Persons with Meningitis Linked to Epidural Steroid Injections, by State as of Oct. 10, 2012. Click to enlarge.

CDC

Schnabel says the board gets about 300 complaints a year, normally from customers who say they’ve been given the wrong medication. For example, if their bag was switched with another customer’s  at the counter.

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