Alexander Says Congress Must Act Soon To Prevent Another Health Crisis

After Recall Of Tainted Drug In Texas

Monday, August 12, 2013

The senior Republican on the U.S. Senate health policy committee said Monday that a recall of tainted drugs by a Texas-based compounding facility confirms that “Congress must act soon to prevent another health crisis.” Senator Lamar Alexander has urged the Senate to vote “as soon as possible” on legislation to clarify oversight of businesses that compound drugs, after a deadly meningitis outbreak last year that has led to 15 deaths in Tennessee.

The Food and Drug Administration reports that 15 patients in two hospitals who received compounded drugs from the Texas compounder have developed bacterial bloodstream infections thought to be related to the drug infusions. 

Senator Alexander said Monday: “It is deeply troubling to hear of more patients who may have been harmed by tainted compounding drugs. Senators on the health committee have worked carefully to put together the best possible legislation, because we knew that the lack of accountability over compounding businesses would lead to another crisis like last year’s meningitis outbreak. We know the problem, we have the solution, and it’s up to Congress to pass this bill as soon as it returns.”

Senator Alexander, with committee chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Sens. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.), introduced the Pharmaceutical Quality, Security, and Accountability Act to help prevent another compounding crisis like the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak that has led to 63 deaths and 749 illnesses.

The bill, which was passed unanimously by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, makes a clear distinction between traditional compounding—which will continue to be regulated primarily by state pharmacy boards—and compounding manufacturers that make sterile products without, or in advance of, a prescription and sell those products across state lines. The compounding manufacturers would be regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

A recently released report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office confirmed that legislation is needed to clarify the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s oversight of large-scale drug compounders. The report authors concluded that there are “gaps in oversight” and that “it is essential to have clear roles for FDA and states in regulation and oversight of drug compounding.”

Senator Alexander said about the report: “This nonpartisan compounding report recommends that Congress work on ‘clarifying FDA’s authority,’ and that’s exactly what we’ve done with our legislation.  We’ve worked to put one agency clearly on the flagpole and in charge for each area of compounding or drug manufacturing, so that we don’t have another deadly outbreak for the same reason we did last year. I hope that this report will further encourage my colleagues to support and pass the bill as soon as possible.”


Life Care Center Of Hixson Earns Joint Commission Accreditation

Life Care Center of Hixson earned accreditation from The Joint Commission, an independent, not-for-profit organization, which evaluates the safety and quality of services provided by more than 20,500 health care organizations across the country.  To earn accreditation, a skilled nursing facility or other entity undergoes an extensive on-site review by a Joint Commission ... (click for more)

Health Officials Find Product With Undeclared Peanut Allergen At Cleveland, Tn.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is issuing a public advisory for an undeclared peanut allergen in 5 oz. containers of Pride of Szeged Hungarian Spice paprika, distributed by Spice Co. of Avenel, N.J.  On Jan. 12, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture conducted routine retail food product sampling in the Cleveland, Tn. area. The department’s test results for ... (click for more)

Girl, 12, Stabs Boy, 13, Twice At Lookout Valley Middle High School

A female student stabbed a male student twice at Lookout Valley Middle High School on Thursday morning. It happened in a middle school classroom. Sheriff Jim Hammond the students are seventh graders.The girl is 12 and the boy 13. He  said the boy was taken by ambulance and went into surgery after the mid-morning stabbing.  He said the boy received a superficial ... (click for more)

Chief Fletcher Gives Maximum Punishment To Officer Who Fired At Vehicle That Backed Toward Him; Attorney Vows To Fight To Reverse Decision

Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher has given a maximum punishment to an officer who fired four shots toward a vehicle after he said the driver backed into his vehicle with him standing behind it. Chief Fletcher sustained a finding of “improper use of force – discharge of firearm.” He suspended Officer Alex Olson for 30 days without pay – the maximum suspension allowed ... (click for more)

Shelley Andrews Will Be Missed - And Response

Shelley Andrews was one of the kindest, most thoughtful and most effective laborers in our community.  Her work with the Friends of Moccasin Bend was exemplary.  She listened, she learned and she led with dignity and class. Her brave battle with ovarian cancer was a testament to her positive spirit and commitment to her work on behalf of the people of this region. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: This One’s For ‘Grifter’

Back in October of 2013 a Facebook page called “OAF Nation” was created to “boost the morale” of the heroes who make up our nation’s military.” It was tongue-in-cheek satire, putting funny captions on every-day pictures that showed members of the Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard as they defended our country. Our fighting men and women loved it. It quickly went viral and today ... (click for more)