Amid meningitis crisis, critics say Medicare may promote risky drug

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With 34 deaths and 474 cases of fungal meningitis linked to tainted steroids from a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy.  (Reuters) With 34 deaths and 474 cases of fungal meningitis linked to tainted steroids from a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy. (Reuters)
SummaryWith 34 deaths and 474 cases of fungal meningitis linked to tainted steroids from a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy.

CMS says that compounded drugs that have not received FDA approval - which describes essentially all compounded drugs - are excluded from Medicare coverage.

If the FDA has not approved the manufacturing and processing procedures used by these (compounding) facilities, the FDA has no assurance that the drugs these companies are producing are safe and effective, the manual adds.

But the same section also says that payment for such a drug does not stop unless CMS notifies the local carriers that it contracts with to process Medicare claims that it is appropriate to do so.

Clearly, if compounded drugs weren't covered to the extent they are, there wouldn't be an economic environment that allows large-scale compounding to continue, said Carome.

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