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Bill on regulating drug compounding clears Congress

A bill that would give the Food and Drug Administration more power to police compounding pharmacies passed its final hurdle in Congress on Monday, in what experts said was an important step to a safer drug supply in the United States.

The bill, which cleared the Senate without opposition, stops short of giving the FDA complete authority over pharmacies that tailor-mix drugs for individual patients, a process known as compounding. But the bill still provides significant new safeguards, which have earned it the support of public health advocates around the country.

“It has very sharp teeth,” said Sarah Sellers, a drug safety consultant who has tracked the issue for years.

Just over a year ago, tainted injectable drugs from a compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts caused a meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people across the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The bill, which took shape in the months after the outbreak, was designed to prevent such events.

“This bill will improve oversight of high-risk drug compounding,” said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who was one of the authors.

—Sabrina Tavernise, The New York Times

Scores killed in tribal clashes in Darfur

KHARTOUM, Sudan — Nearly 200 members of two Arab tribes that signed a peace treaty in July were killed in fighting in southwest Darfur over the past three weeks, a local tribal chief said.

“The total of dead from the past weeks of fighting has reached 139 from both sides,” said the tribal chief, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Add to that 53 who died Sunday night.”

U.N. officials in the area confirmed the fighting between the two groups.

“We have received information of fighting between the Salamat and the Messeiriya in the area of Umm Dukhun,” said Ashraf Eissa, a spokesman for the joint U.N. and African Union Mission in Darfur, known as UNAMID. He said that the fighting had affected a displaced persons’ camp and some shelters, and that a “feeding center” run by nongovernmental organizations had been burned down.

Joint Sudanese-Chadian forces that patrol the border between their two nations “disengaged the fighting tribesmen,” Eissa added.

The tribal chief said, “Nine Sudanese soldiers were killed, and two Chadian soldiers were injured.” Agence France-Presse reported that Chadian soldiers had died during the clashes, but did not confirm how many.

Sporadic fighting between members of the two tribes has led to the death of over 200 since the beginning of the year.

Intertribal clashes and fighting between rebels and government forces in the troubled Darfur region have led to the displacement of 460,000 people this year, the United Nations said last week.

—Isma’il Kushkush, The New York Times