Patrick announces legislation overhauling pharmacy board

Governor Deval Patrick announced on Friday planned legislation to reorganize the state board of pharmacy to add professionals from other fields and to give the board the authority to regulate out-of-state compounding pharmacies that distribute drugs in Massachusetts.

The state board has been scrutinized following a national outbreak of fungal meningitis that has killed at least 40 people and has been blamed on tainted steroids produced at New England Compounding Center in Framingham. The Globe reported that regulators knew about problems at the facility but repeatedly failed to take concerted action requiring improvements.

During a midday press conference, Patrick released the recommendations of a special commission created in October to review the board’s practices. The panel’s proposed changes include increasing the number of pharmacists on the 11-member board from from five to six, however Patrick’s proposed legislation would set that number at four—less than a majority of the board. Other members in Patrick’s proposal would include a nurse, a physician, one pharmacy technician, a quality improvement officer, and three members of the public..

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Patrick’s proposed legislation would also give the pharmacy board the authority to create licensing categories, including one for facilitiess engaging in sterile compounding to prepare injected drugs such as the steroids implicated in the outbreak.