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Audit: NC pharmacies not routinely inspected

Posted October 24, 2013

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— More than one-third of the pharmacies operating in North Carolina haven't been inspected by state regulators in at least four years, according to a state audit released Thursday.

Auditors said the infrequent inspections could endanger public health, noting inspections performed by the state Board of Pharmacy turned up evidence of various problems.

"Drugs being mislabeled. The wrong medications being dispensed. A pharmacy operating 10 months without a pharmacist," State Auditor Beth Wood said.

During the 12 months covered in the audit, from October 2011 to September 2012, only 11 percent of the pharmacies statewide underwent a routine inspection, even though the board has a 25 percent annual goal, the audit states.

Jay Campbell, executive director of the Board of Pharmacy, said the board has computerized more of its records in recent months to ensure that pharmacies don't fall through the cracks on inspections. Previously, the board used paper records, which didn't give staff an effective way to monitor the process.

Campbell noted, however, that state laws that outline the board's duties center on investigations of pharmacies that might be breaking the law, not routine health-related inspections.

pharmacy generic, prescription Pharmacy board updates records after audit

There is no state law requiring routine pharmacy inspections, and the Board of Pharmacy has no policy on the matter, according to the audit. Also, auditors noted, the board's abilities are limited by having only seven inspectors to check on more than 2,700 licensed pharmacies in North Carolina.

Still, the audit recommends that the board develop a policy to ensure regular inspections and try to hire more inspectors to carry them out.

Wood said she feels better that the Board of Pharmacy is updating its records to track pharmacies better.

"We'll be able to understand if it was effective and if they were the right moves when we go back in there 12 to 18 months from now," she said.

41 Comments

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  • ryan6076 Oct 29, 2013

    JUSTONEGOD... I don't think you understood my post at all. As a pharmacy manager I am the daily auditor. My job is to make sure that everything about a prescription leaving my pharmacy is correct, legal, appropriate, and so on. I just wanted to let the public know how board audits work because this story misrepresented the process for shock value. If a pharmacy or pharmacist is routinely making mistakes or endangering the public and the board is notified they will show up, and they can revoke the license of the pharmacist or the pharmacy. If you look at the boards website www.NCBOP.org it explains what the board is and what their function is very clearly. As for your verification of my dedication to my patients health, I spent 140k on 4 years of post graduate education to attain a doctorate degree in my field and you have to trust that I will give every patient my best just as most people trust that their physician has their best interest in mind.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Oct 25, 2013

    ryan6076 said, "I am WAY more aware of how critical my [pharmacist] job is to my patient's health and safety than the general public will ever know."

    And, we just want to verify this.

  • ryan6076 Oct 24, 2013

    I have been a pharmacist for 7 years and have owned my own independent pharmacy for 3 years and I can tell you the following comments by auditor Beth Wood are absurd (the infrequent inspections could endanger public health, noting inspections performed by the state Board of Pharmacy turned up evidence of various problems."Drugs being mislabeled. The wrong medications being dispensed. A pharmacy operating 10 months without a pharmacist," State Auditor Beth Wood said.)

    State BOP audits, which I have been subject to, are simply to confirm that pharmacies operating within our state are abiding by the laws of the state, the nation, and the rules set forth by the board. I could be inspected on a daily basis and still make an unfortunate mistake that endangers a patient. That's why I make sure that my pharmacy is run with the utmost care, because I am WAY more aware of how critical my job is to my patient's health and safety than the general public will ever know.

  • Hubris Oct 24, 2013

    "the problem is that our corporate offices want us to do more with less...and now we have flu shots on top of that!"

    Agreed. I sympathize with those working in chain pharmacies. Asked, no, told to do more with less is ultimately a public health risk that can turn into a crisis.

  • ne1410s Oct 24, 2013

    I've been a pharmacist for over 6 years and was a technician for 14 years before that...I've seen 2 inspectors during that timespan. That's not the problem...the problem is that our corporate offices want us to do more with less...and now we have flu shots on top of that! We need a law that says when a pharmacy does more than "x" amount of prescriptions in a day, then you have to have 2 pharmacists there during the day. Currently, there is a 150 prescriptions/8 hr day 'suggestion' per the Board. Unfortunately, when the 1st of the month hits or near a holiday, I can fill over 500 by myself. It doesn't matter how many technicians you have or cashiers...we need pharmacists! Friends of mine are just astonished about how many prescriptions we fill in a day...I tell them--you can't go by how many cars are in the yard at the pharmacy, especially now with increased e-scripts from MDs. Many days I walk into work at 9am and we are already 80 behind. And stay that way the majority of the day.

  • dwntwnboy2 Oct 24, 2013

    "How are you going to inspect the source? The sources are worldwide."- was referring to the pharmacy as being the "source" where people GET their perscription drugs- not the root source of the medication itself.

  • corey3rd2 Oct 24, 2013

    A "compounding pharmacy" is a vastly different animal than the pharmacies referred to in this story. BTW, wasn't it bad product rather than unsanitary handling that was the problem? btneast

    Google it. It was extremely unsanitary conditions, but don't let that bother your version of events of why a lot of people are slowly dying in America because of the Free Market never harms us belief.

  • seumfithy Oct 24, 2013

    "it seems absurd to me that there's no routine inspection of pharmacies. The huge number of new medicines coming out with similar and confusing names, and the kinds of medicines that have both valuable uses AND a high potential for abuse (Oxycodone, pseudoephedrine, etc.) would make inspections by someone seem a wise idea."

    That is exactly what the pharmacist with the doctorate gets paid the big money to do!!! The must do continuing education constantly, and are LIABLE for their actions. Keep the state out of there!

  • btneast Oct 24, 2013

    Good! It's just Big Government. Gov't should stay out of the business of private companies. right?

    Nope, regulation is good, over regulation CAN be bad. DEA already inspects pharmacies....do we really need to stick NC's two cents in as well, especially for something that would only end up being lip service anyway?

  • whatelseisnew Oct 24, 2013

    "More people die each year because of prescribed medications than all other illegal drugs combined yet we don't bother inspecting the very source of said medications.....pardon me while I face-palm!!"

    How are you going to inspect the source? The sources are worldwide. Then you have the manufacturers. Then you have distributors. Then at the end of the chain you have a person putting medications into a container. Every one of these is a potential source of a problem. So lets say you use a pharmacy that got "Inspected" yesterday. Today you call in a prescription and go pick it up. Of what value was that inspection to you? The pharmacist or the assistant could have miscounted, or even put the wrong medication into the container they give you. Even if the label on the container is correct, do the contents match the label? Do you check? Do you count the pills? You are the one that is going to take the meds. Perhaps it is worth a bit of your time to check. Pills have markers on them.

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