Three pharmacies in the Shoals were raided recently by the FBI for possible over-billing of up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Sheffield Pharmacy, Russelville Pharmacy and Franklin Pharmacy are all compounding pharmacies.
Compounding pharmacies are the modern day equivalent to olden day apothecaries where the pharmacist specially mixes medications for individual patients. Patients that may need a compounding pharmacy may require medication in a different form than is readily available (such as a pill rather than a liquid) or may require a dose that is drastically different than the most commonly prescribed (such as a medication for an infant). Compounding pharmacies can also create medications without using dyes or flavors that a patient may not want or may not be able to tolerate (or vice versa, adding flavors to a medication to make it taste better).
Compounding pharmacies have been at the center of debate in the past few years due to the very nature of what they do – mix medications in such a way that the result may differ from the intended use of the drug-makers. But right off the bat, it has been a legal battle determining who is in charge of the oversight of compounding pharmacies: the FDA or Congress via laws and statutes that have been passed.
In 2007, the United States Supreme Court deemed that it was unconstitutional for Congress to restrict advertising done by compounding pharmacies. However, due to language in the Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act (FDAMA), some states may or may not abide by the FDAMA and therefore have different laws about allowing new drugs used for off-label purposes or compounded drugs. In general, compounded drugs are typically legal as long the patient has a valid prescription and the ingredients for making the compounded drug are all FDA-approved.
The investigation for these three Alabama pharmacies could take many months until any information is made public and whether or not any actual healthcare fraud was committed.