Despite its central role in healthcare, technicians in most pharmacies still compound medications manually, in much the same way it's been done for generations. Such a long history, combined with refinements in aseptic techniques and training, means manual IV compounding remains the accepted standard of care. But how much longer should it be?
Recent outbreaks of illness and adverse reactions linked to compounded medications, as well as numerous pharmacy product recalls, make the shortcomings of manual compounding increasingly hard to ignore. Last year, a Birmingham-based compounding pharmacy was forced to withdraw at least 10 products after the FDA raised concerns about the lab it used for sterility testing.
A subsequent inspection of the pharmacy itself found numerous deficiencies in procedures for making sterile drug compounds. Although no illnesses have been linked to products made by the pharmacy, such stories beg a simple but fundamental question: how can we ensure the safety of compounded medications?
Ongoing reliance on manual techniques would be understandable if there were no alternative. But automated IV compounding systems have existed for more than a decade. Moreover, the technology is proven to enhance the safety of compounded medications, reduce pharmacy costs and increase productivity. Still, some in the industry feel automated IV compounding technology is not yet sufficiently developed for widespread implementation. It's an unfortunate perception, and inaccurate.
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