facebook Creams and gels used for pain draw scrutiny from federal agencies

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Made-to-order creams and gels, often used for pain, draw renewed scrutiny from federal agencies

medical creamsIf you’ve ever filled a prescription for made-to-order creams or gels, you will want to know about a new government report.

These so-called “compounded” creams are commonly used to ease pain. Now a new report from Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services raises concerns about possible fraud and safety risks.

Inspectors found 547 pharmacies – nearly a quarter of those that submitted the bulk of the Medicare bills for making these creams – matched one or more of the “red-flag markers” set by investigators. Those markers include extremely high prices, price spikes and the rising number of prescriptions.

For example, one Oregon pharmacy submitted Medicare claims for 91 percent of its customers. A Florida pharmacy saw its Medicare billing for such creams and gels go from $7,468 in 2015 to $1.8 million the next year.

Kaiser Health News reports that state boards of pharmacy generally oversee compounding pharmacies, and the drugs they produce are not considered to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

A Florida pharmacy saw its Medicare billing for such creams and gels go from $7,468 in 2015 to $1.8 million the next year.

Their use has grown rapidly, with Medicare spending for such treatments rising 2,350 percent, from $13.2 million in 2010 to $323.5 million in 2016.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb says his agency plans to make more information available to patients and their doctors about compounded pain creams, including their effectiveness and potential safety risks.

Have you filled a prescription at the pharmacy for a made-to-order cream or gel? Was it an affordable, effective option? Share you story with Voices for Affordable Health.