“This is a continually unfolding situation, and we will carefully review the results of these government inspections and evaluate the relationship as more information comes to light,” the Novation spokeswoman said in an e-mail. HealthTrust issued a similar statement: “We are monitoring the Ameridose situation very closely, and we are evaluating alternatives.”
Some providers, though, are also looking at alternative routes to obtaining the drugs they buy from compounders. A surgery center owned by 319-bed Union Hospital, Terre Haute, Ind., received and used some of the steroid doses believed to be contaminated and identified 90 patients that received injections, but it had not had any reported cases of meningitis, said spokeswoman Kim Perkins.
Kristi Williams, system director of pharmacy, said they are “going to weigh the risks vs. the benefit” of using compounded pharmacies in the future. She said that patients have had success in the past with the drug in question, and they are unavailable from drug manufacturers in the form necessary for spinal injections, without preservatives, she said. Preservatives used in some instances cause toxicities and may come with additional risk to the patient.
Officials at two hospitals in Texas and Idaho that received lots of the contaminated vials say they will continue to buy drugs from compounding pharmacies.
Walter Knox Memorial Hospital in Emmett, Idaho, has never had a problem using compounded medicines, said Sue Vahlberg, community relations manager for the 16-bed county-owned facility. “I think it was the particular distributor” that was the problem, Vahlberg said. “It was just one of those things; hopefully, it won't happen again.”
Similarly, as of Oct. 12, none of the 114 patients at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Southlake (Texas) who received steroid injections from the tainted vials had reported getting sick, the hospital said.
Traci Bernard, president of the 16-bed hospital, said it's unrealistic to think that the hospital would discontinue the use of other compounding facilities, because they are sometimes the only source of needed drugs. But Bernard also acknowledged the situation has presented a fraught decision. “We pride ourselves on being a safe, quality organization,” she said. “This is concerning.”
TAKEAWAY: Amid contamination-caused outbreak, hospitals must weigh risks against needs for compounded drugs.