Army Signed Contract with Firm Tied to Meningitis Outbreak | Families
By Walter F. Roche - The Tennessean
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Army recently signed an exclusive, five-year purchasing agreement with a Massachusetts company that has shut down in the midst of a meningitis outbreak.
The sole-source purchase agreement with Ameridose LLC was issued June 29 by the U.S. Army Medical Command. The contract is to supply specialized compounded pharmaceutical products for the pediatric intensive care unit at the Army’s Tripler Medical Center in Honolulu.
Ameridose voluntarily halted production last week at its Westborough, Mass., plant under an agreement with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Massachusetts Health Department.
Ameridose has the same owners as New England Compounding Center, named as the source of tainted steroids linked to the nation’s ongoing meningitis outbreak in which 15 people have died and 214 people have been sickened in 15 states.
While Ameridose agreed to a 12-day shutdown to allow its 70,000-square-foot facility to be inspected, the company was not required to recall any of its products. New England Compounding has recalled all of its products.
In a two-page justification for awarding the contract, Army officials stated that Ameridose “is the only source found that compounds highly specialized pharmaceutical products in the concentrations which are used in the neonatal intensive care unit.”
Tripler spokeswoman Stephanie A. Bryant said the agreement was the first and only one for the medical center. No dollar value was placed on the agreement, and the June 18 notice indicated the drugs would be ordered on an as-needed basis.VA BOUGHT GOODS
Records show the Army is not the only federal agency to purchase goods from Ameridose. Veterans Affairs medical centers across the country have purchased a little more than $900,000 in drugs and related goods from Ameridose over the past three years. The amounts of the purchases range from a $36 purchase by the VA in Nebraska to a $144,000 purchase by the VA in Pittsburgh.
Purchases totaling about $20,000 were made from New England Compounding. VA spokesman Phil Budahn said the agency has not purchased any contaminated material from New England Compounding. He said VA pharmacies across the country had been advised to remove any New England Compounding products from their inventories.
“Combining pharmacies can be an important source of medication,” Budahn said, adding that VA pharmacies turned to compounders only when other sources were not available.