USC's College of Pharmacy opened a new lab Friday that could indirectly save your life one day. The Aseptic Compounding Experience Lab will give pharmacy students, and practicing pharmacists, hands-on training in making compounded medications.
In 2012, 64 people nationwide died from fungal infections after they received injected medications that were made at a compounding center in Boston that did not use proper sterile techniques, according to the FDA. Those deaths led to USC's creation of the new lab.
Compounded medicines are made by a pharmacist, according to a doctor's prescription, by combining, mixing, or changing drug ingredients. For example, the dosage strength of a drug made for adults might have to be changed so it can be used on children, or someone may be allergic to a preservative, dye, or binder used in an off-the-shelf medication so the pharmacist has to mix it differently.
Hospital IVs also have to be made in a sterile environment.
Rather than pretending to work in sterile conditions, the new lab at USC will allow pharmacy students to actually do it, with their end products being tested to make sure the students are doing things correctly.
"So that when they do go back and they get into the real world practice setting, they can verify and do it the right way so that patients are not harmed and the medicines that those patients need are done in such a way that they're going to cause benefit instead of harm," says Bryan Ziegler, executive director of the Kennedy Pharmacy Innovation Center.
Besides students from the USC College of Pharmacy, practicing pharmacists from across the country will come to the new lab for continuing education. "It will improve the quality of the product that we produce as pharmacists," says Addison Livingston, a compounding pharmacist.
Besides the sterile environment and equipment, the lab has cameras mounted inside the hoods so an entire class can see on giant TV screens what an instructor is doing. Those same cameras can then monitor what the students are doing to make sure it's done right.
"There are very few sterile compounding labs at universities anywhere in the country and none we know of offering this complete program," says Bob Davis, Kennedy professor at the university's Kennedy Pharmacy Innovation Center.