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Affordable Care Act

Politics Holds Up Compounding Bill

Remember the New England Compounding Center, which sent out contaminated  pain injections that killed 64 people, including some in Florida? More than a year after that debacle, a bill  that nearly everyone in Congress supports is being held up by an opponent of the Affordable Care Act.

Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, says the chamber should not vote on the compounding bill until it first votes on his own  measure, the Associated Press reports. Vitter’s proposal would force members of Congress to disclose which of their staff members are signing up for the health law and which are remaining in the Federal Employee Benefit Program.

The House has already passed the compounding bill, which  tries to clarify the muddled jurisdiction between states -- which regulate pharmacies -- and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates drug manufacturers. The NECC meningitis outbreak was thought to be partly the result of the lack of clarity  in jurisdiction, although  Massachusetts health authorities confessed they had not been diligent enough.

The bill would retain state regulation but would give the FDA explicit authority to intervene when compounders are behaving like unlicensed manufacturers.