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Hearings To Examine Compounding Pharmacy Oversight

BOSTON — The state’s oversight of compounding pharmacies will be the subject of a legislative hearing Wednesday on Beacon Hill, and two hearings this week in Washington, D.C.

Massachusetts lawmakers called for the hearing in the wake of a nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak linked to a steroid distributed by Framingham-based New England Compounding Center. The outbreak has sickened more than 400 people and caused more than 30 deaths.

The state pharmacy board is under scrutiny for its handling of past complaints against the company. The board’s director, James Coffey, was fired last week.

The Massachusetts board falls under the umbrella of the state Department of Public Health. The agency also faces questions about its oversight of a now-closed state lab, where a former chemist has been accused of mishandling drug tests. DPH administered the drug lab until June 2012 when oversight was transferred to the State Police.

On Capitol Hill, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg is scheduled to testify Wednesday before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. NECC President and co-owner Barry Cadden and interim DPH Commissioner Lauren Smith are also set to be witnesses.

The U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee is scheduled to hold a similar hearing on Thursday.

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