Local Pharmacies Defy FDA

The FDA says they're breaking the law, but some Amarillo pharmacists insist defying the agency is the right thing to do.

At least three local pharmacies are filling prescriptions with estriol, a menopausal drug component with no approval from the FDA. The government aims to put a stop to the production of estriol pills, but pharmacists we spoke with say they'll keep dispensing the compounded hormone because their patients depend on it.

"I'm doing the right thing for my patients. I'm giving them a choice. I'm providing them the alternative they have asked for," says Johnson. She points out her patients have never complained of any adverse symptoms from the estriol based compound she sells. She says she's been taking the drug herself for four years. But the FDA warns it does not review estriol or other compounded drugs for safety.

And that's why the agency wants to stop estriol production. "It is a substance that is not approved by FDA and is therefore in violation," says agency spokeswoman Susan Cruzan. The three pharmacists we spoke with who fill estriol prescriptions have no plan to stop that. The FDA says they could face written warnings for that production or the agency could take them to court. Johnson says she hopes the FDA will change its mind about that decision and allow patients to keep their choices for hormone therapy.