L&M, Backus unhurt by shutdown of medication supplier

Southeastern Connecticut's two hospitals both said Tuesday they will be able to continue supplying their patients with all needed medications despite the temporary shutdown of a key supplier.

Last week, Ameridose LLC voluntarily agreed to temporarily suspend production at its Boston-area facility because of its ties to the New England Compounding Center, the compounding pharmacy that produced contaminated steroid injections responsible for a nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak that has thus far sickened 233 people and caused 15 deaths. Ameridose is awaiting inspection by the Food & Drug Administration and expects to reopen in one to two weeks.

Both The William W. Backus Hospital in Norwich and Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in New London purchase medications from Ameridose. Ameridose sells certain medications that are not available elsewhere, Warren Rogers, L&M's director of pharmacy said. These include certain narcotics and other types of pain medications, anesthetics, and heparin, an anticoagulant.

Rogers said L&M has ingredients on hand to be able to produce the medications in-house on an as-needed basis, or has found alternative medications. Making the medications in-house is more costly, because there is more waste involved in making small batches, he added.

"We can't be without pain medications," he said.

Rogers emphasized that L&M did not receive any steroid medications from the New England Compounding Center. On Monday, the FDA advised health care providers not to use any products from the New England Compounding Center, and the pharmacy recalled all of its products.

The Backus pharmacy also will produce the drugs in-house if current supplies run out, spokesman Shawn Mawhiney said.

"As soon as we were made aware of this we developed a contingency plan, and we are well prepared to take care of our patients," he said. "We have plenty of drugs on hand if they reopen in a week or two as expected. However, we have stocked up on all of the ingredients needed and our staff would be able to produce the drugs if needed, although that is not the optimal situation over extended periods of time."

John Gadea, director of drug control at the state Department of Consumer Protection, said Tuesday that his office and state Department of Public Health officials have contacted hospitals, surgical centers and private medical practices around the state about the New England Compounding Center recall and the voluntary shutdown of Ameridose. Virtually all were aware and already had removed from their shelves any medication that came from the New England Compounding Center, he added.

The Department of Public Health said it has contacted all 39 patients of the only medical practice in the state that purchased steroids from the pharmacy. Thirty-eight patients at the Middlebury practice reported no meningitis symptoms, and one person was evaluated and no illness was found, the health department said.

j.benson@theday.com

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