www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/bs-ed-pharmacy-letter-20121125,0,3341319.story

baltimoresun.com

Headline mischaracterized Board of Pharmacy's stance

11:15 AM EST, November 26, 2012

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On behalf of the Maryland Board of Pharmacy, we are writing to commend Sun reporter Andrea Walker for a fair and honest reflection of information discussed during her interview with board executive director LaVerne Naesea and board commissioner David Chason about the board's monitoring of sterile compounding pharmacies and addressing potential gaps in oversight. The article's on-line headline, "Maryland pharmacy of board says it can adequately monitor compounding pharmacies — Board beefed up standards in recent years" (Nov. 18), accurately indicated the thrust of the interview.

However, as sometimes happens when a story isn't quite spicy enough, an editor may decide to change the headline to increase sales or perhaps raise controversy. The board suspects something like this may have occurred when the referenced article was published on the front page of The Sun's print edition on Monday, Nov. 19, under the headline, "Maryland board resists U.S. role in regulation of pharmacies."

Obviously, after reading the article's text it would be difficult to conclude that the board's interviewees intended to imply that the board is resistant to current and/or future recommended oversight activities by the Food and Drug Administration. Further, the article does not reflect that the board's approach differs from that suggested by Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, secretary of its umbrella agency, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. In fact, the board applauds the efforts of all state and federal officials who are working to close gaps that exist in assuring the safety of patients treated with sterile compounded medications. The board also looks forward to working with all officials in creating a seamless network of protections for pharmacy patients in Maryland and throughout the country.

So dear Sun editor(s), it would be wise to trust your writers' words. It would also be prudent to understand that serious discourses about factors that led to the horrific meningitis outbreak and how to avoid future such occurrences are themselves hot topics, not requiring a misleading headline. As for Ms. Walker, the board extends a gracious thank you for the opportunity to examine this issue with you. Thank you for responsible reporting of the facts and for not compromising your personal ethics in order to pique your readers' interest.

Michael Souranis and LaVerne G. Naesea

The writers are president and executive director of the Maryland Board of Pharmacy.