A consumer advocacy group has raised the possibility that Medicare policy spurred the rise of large-scale drug compounding, which is widely considered the indirect cause of a deadly meningitis outbreak, according to congressional newspaper The Hill.
A compounding pharmacy called the New England Compounding Center produced the contaminated steroid medication believed to be the source of the outbreak, which according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has so far sickened 480 people and killed 33 in 19 states.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the tissue surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
Public Citizen alleges that the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have been lax in denying coverage for wide-scale compounded medications.
Compounded medications, which are specialty drugs put together from ingredients provided by outside sources, aren’t subject to the same U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations.
As a result, the CMS has unwittingly created a financial incentive for drug compounding on a scale far larger than its original legal parameters were supposed to allow, Public Citizen alleges.
The group has sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, urging her to review Medicare drug reimbursement policies in light of the meningitis outbreak.
The letter states: “This investigation must identify all CMS officials whose actions and decisions contributed to the agency’s failure to prevent this public health catastrophe. Ultimately, the senior leadership within the agency must be held accountable.”
Lopez McHugh is investigating cases related to this outbreak. If you or a loved one had an injection and were diagnosed with meningitis, you should consult with a Lopez McHugh lawyer for a free consultation.
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