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Massachusetts weighs new rules for compounding pharmacies

meningitis fungus

A sample of Cladosporium species, one of the fungi diagnosed in the fungal meningitis outbreak sweeping the United States. REUTERS/Harrison McClary

State lawmakers are weighing changes to how sterile compounding pharmacies are regulated in the wake of a deadly nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak that was linked to a steroid distributed by a Massachusetts firm.

The Committee on Public Health has scheduled a hearing Tuesday on several proposals that call for strengthening oversight and licensing of the pharmacies.

Among them is a bill filed by Gov. Deval Patrick that would require compounding pharmacies to obtain a special state license.

The legislation would also create whistleblower protections for pharmacy workers and enforce new fines and penalties for compounding pharmacies that break the rules.

The committee will also hear testimony on general pharmacy bills.

More than 50 deaths and hundreds of illnesses have been tied to the outbreak. New England Compounding Center of Framingham shut down last fall.