New compounding pharmacy uses strict safety techniques

It's important to have a sterile room for safety purposes.
It's important to have a sterile room for safety purposes.

DECATUR, AL (WAFF) - Pill Box Pharmacy started compounding prescription medications in 1997. That means creams, lotions, and medicines that do not require sterility, were concocted after the pharmacists received additional training.

But now they are embarking on something new which allows medicines in the form of injections, eye drops and ear drops to be made here.

"You've got to have a sterile environment and there are a lot of government regulations that make sure there is safety involved in doing the sterile compounding," said Pharmacist Sam Costello.

To do that, they needed a sterile room.

"The first room is our standard compounding room. The room air in there is similar to the room air in any room. The next room is the anti-room and it gets a little bit cleaner, has fewer particles and the room and it gets cleaned every day," Costello explained.

Pharmacist Catherine Henderson said that room is important as it pertains to preps.

"This is the room that we come into before we make our sterile preparations. This is where we get everything ready," she said.

The last room is the sterile room.

"You've got to have positive air pressure so that when you open the door from our middle room, or the anti-room, air can only flow out. Why is that important? Because it's a sterile room and you don't want contaminated air going into that room," said Costello.

The recent tragedies in the New England Compounding Pharmacy mean facilities like this one are taking major precautions and having extra safety nets.

"Every time that we sterilize something, we are going to use one of these strips and drop it in the load that we are sterilizing and when it's finished we take the strip out and we put it into one of these vials," added Henderson.

That is an in house test to make sure everything is sterile. But they go even further. "Then we send out all of our compounds to an independent laboratory for external testing and we do internal testing to make sure that we're not growing any fungal material in our pharmacy that our compounds are coming out sterile," she said.

Tools and glassware are also sterilized with an autoclave and oven. With this addition, the Pill Box has the only sterile compounding facility in Lawrence, Limestone and Morgan counties.

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