The controversy over compounding pharmacies is now crossing into the U.S. Senate race between Republican incumbent Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren. Hard to say where this might lead, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.
First up: Noah Bierman and Frank Phillips report in the Boston Globe that Brown backed an effort by the compounding-pharmacy industry to stop the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration from imposing new regulations. Brown also received $10,000 in donations from a fundraising event organized by the owner of the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, ground zero in the meningitis outbreak.
That sounds pretty bad. But Brown’s explanation — that he and the industry wanted a rule requiring drugs to be delivered directly to doctors rather than patients — seems reasonable.
“As you know, they sometimes fall into the wrong hands,” Brown told the Globe. “I was advocating getting it to the doctors, which I don’t think loosens regulations.”
Next up is the Boston Herald, whose reporter Erin Smith writes today that, in 2007, Sen. Ted Kennedy pushed for exactly the kind of tough regulations and DEA oversight that might have prevented the meningitis cases.
Again, it’s hard to know how that might be relevant to the Brown-Warren race. But the Herald story describes an industry flat-out opposed to any federal involvement.
“They have a huge amount of lobbyists. They give money to politicians. We didn’t have that,” Arthur Levin, director of the Center for Medical Consumers, told the Herald. “Sen. Ted Kennedy had a lot of influence, but obviously the bill didn’t get enough support.”
If nothing else, the Herald story casts the industry’s more recent efforts, supported by Brown, in a less benign light. And given that Brown holds Kennedy’s old seat, it could make for an irresistible compare-and-contrast.
I doubt we’ve heard the last of this.
Photo (cc) by Brian Finifter and republished under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.