March 28, 2024

Damned if we do, damned if we don’t

Let’s say you’re APC. You get a call from a producer at a major news network saying that their celebrity medical doctor is doing a story on GLP-1 drugs and wants to include compounded GLP-1s in the piece. You spend over an hour on the phone briefing her, and you can tell she’s impressed with what she’s learning about compounding. She says the celebrity doc likes compounding, that it will be sympathetic coverage, not a hit job.

Then she asks what you knew all along she was going to ask: Can you recommend a pharmacy that compounds GLP-1s that would let us bring a camera crew to film that process, maybe interview the pharmacist? 

What do you do? Well, if you’re our APC staff you pause, because you know a few things.

You know that this could be a great opportunity to showcase compounding, to get sympathetic coverage that millions will see. 

And yet you know that sterile compounding pharmacy owners aren’t likely to want cameras in their compounding labs – FDA could be watching, right?

You also know those owners prefer to keep their heads down, not to draw the attention of drugmakers that would come with a nationally televised news story – and not just attention but a possible lawsuit – even though the pharmacy is 100 percent compliant with law and reg.

And yeah, you know that not just any sterile compounding pharmacy will do. Pharmacies with a recent FDA 483 or warning letter won’t do. Neither will a pharmacy that persists in advertising peptides that don’t meet the criteria for compounding. Because those things would certainly come out in the news story and would not be helpful.

But … You also know that if you don’t recommend the right compounding pharmacy, that producer will likely go out and find one on her own … and it may just be one of those pharmacies with FDA citations or reputations for skirting the rules.

So with all of that in mind, you pick up the phone, and you begin to beg and plead and cajole, only to be told no again and again and again.

I’d love to tell you this is all hypothetical, but it’s an accurate depiction of events of the past three weeks or so for our staff team.

And for me it’s the reminder that as a profession, we’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t. Damned with a lawsuit if we tell our story, damned with inaccurate reporting or the airing of dirty laundry if we don’t. The risks are high either way, of course, but we all tend to lean toward “don’t.”

Speaking just for myself, I’m beginning to rethink whether that’s the better answer. Maybe you, too. If so, let me hear from you. Because the media is still calling. And we need to seize opportunities when they present themselves.

— Joe


Joseph P. Navarra, RPh, FACA, FAPC is the owner of Town Total Compounding Center in Woodbury, New York. You can reach him at