Pharmacies try to get by with this by claiming they’re “compounding.” Compounding is when a pharmacist mixes different medications in order to give a patient with a rare medical condition an effective treatment that’s not commercially available.
But what these pharmacies are doing is not legal compounding, because a.) Most conditions these illegal medications treat, such as asthma or COPD, are not rare; and b.) They are compounding ingredients to make drugs that are essentially the same as commercially available nebulizer medications, which the compounding law does not allow.
But worst of all, this practice is unsafe and could harm already sick patients. Sometimes the “compounded” drugs don’t contain enough of the active ingredient to be therapeutic. Sometimes they contain too much. Sometimes they contain airway irritants, carcinogens, and disease-causing bacteria.
In response to this problem, the FDA has issued warnings to pharmacies that were illegally producing these drugs and prosecuted many of the individuals and entities involved.
Make sure your vials of nebulizer medications don’t have paper labels or plastic wings on them, as these are warning signs of illegally manufactured drugs. You can check out this helpful .pdf by the Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA) for more information as well as a list of the federally licensed Brand-Name and Generic Manufacturers of nebulizer medications.
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