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December 22. 2012 9:46PM

Littleton pharmacy makes name change in wake of meningitis outbreak

LITTLETON - New Hampshire's only full-time pharmacy exclusively devoted to compounding medications is changing its name to avoid being mistaken for a company involved in the recent deadly meningitis outbreak.

Currently known as Northern New England Compounding Pharmacy (NNECP), the Littleton company will begin doing business Jan. 1 as Eastern States Compounding Pharmacy.

Earlier this year a Massachusetts company, New England Compounding Center, shipped tainted vials of methylprednisolone acetate to medical facilities throughout the United States.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 36 people died and more than 500 others were injured from injections of the contaminated steroid.

NNECP owner and chief pharmacist David Rochefort said his company has never been affiliated in any way with the Bay State company.

"We don't do business the way they did. We don't even do the same things they did," he said.

Rochefort said the Massachusetts company was "basically manufacturing drugs under the auspices of a pharmacy" while NNECP works with physicians, veterinarians and other legally authorized prescribers to provide individualized custom medications.

Examples of compounded prescriptions include children's dosages of commercially prepared medicines available only in adult doses; medicines in allergen free or liquid forms; and flavored medications for children and pets.

"Compounding, when it's done right, is a wonderful way to provide people with personalized medications," Rochefort said.

A second generation pharmacist whose family owned a Lancaster pharmacy from 1856 to 2005, Rochefort started NNECP in Littleton in 2006.

The company was the first compounding pharmacy in northern New England and the only one in New Hampshire to earn the national Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation Board's seal of approval.

The pharmacy serves clients from Nashua to Canada as well as Vermont. It has an "extremely high degree of quality" and employs multiple quality control and sterile processes for all prescriptions leaving the facility, Rochefort said.

But when the meningitis story broke back in October, Rochefort said his phone "was ringing off the hook" with questions from concerned patients and providers.

"That's when we knew we had to do something about the name," he said. "And most people say 'I can definitely see where you're coming from.'"

Rochefort said the change required the approval of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, the N.H. Board of Pharmacy, and the N.H. Secretary of State, along with banking and insurance changes.

"We moved pretty quickly," he said. "The agencies have been very understanding."

Rochefort said the name change cost the company thousands of dollars, but the process has been beneficial and even a little exciting.

"It's a great chance to talk to people and let them know what we do," he said. "And with the new name and new logo, it's like opening the business again."

The company will make no change in staffing, products or services, and its address and phone numbers will remain the same. For more information, go to www.easternstatescompounding.com

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Kristi Garofalo may be reached at kgarofalo@newstote.com.



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