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Assembly member McKinnor Fights for Parents' Rights to Maintain Children's Access to Flavored Medications

Tina McKinnor

By Jaivon Grant

Access to flavored children’s medications is still in danger. But the possible limitation on flavoring children's medications, which was previously covered in April, has a new champion. Los Angeles Assemblymember Tina McKinnor (D-Inglewood) is leading the charge to ensure Californians continue to have easy access to these flavored medications.

Assembly Bill 782, states that medicine flavoring shouldn't be classified under the compounding process. This seemingly trivial difference matters because the California Board of Pharmacy (BOP) specified that the vast majority of California’s 3,000 neighborhood pharmacies — which aren’t classified as compounding pharmacies — shouldn't be engaged in the medicine-flavoring process.

’I do not agree with the BOP’s interpretation of the national requirements and am confident that AB 782 is consistent with federal law,” says McKinnor.

CalMatters, a Sacramento-based online newsletter, shed some light on this issue’s complex history:

“In 2019, the state passed a law that required California pharmacists to prepare drugs in a way that met the rules outlined by the United States Pharmacopeia [USP] — a not-for-profit organization that sets standards for how drugs are prepared. This includes drug compounding, where pharmacists combine, mix or alter ingredients to meet the needs of individual patients.

At the time, Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, a Democrat from Thousand Oaks and author of the law, said the goal was to ensure that Californians multistate outbreak of fungal meningitis that killed 64 people due to the unsafe compounding of a steroid. The board approached her office, seeking to establish minimum standards for drug compounding and identifying U.S. Pharmacopeia as the baseline for compliance.

The status quo in California remained relatively fine until November, when the U.S. Pharmacopeia updated its guidelines to clarify that flavoring medicine falls in the scope of drug compounding. And because California must match its drug preparation standards by law, that would further regulate how pharmacists flavor medication, and may discourage them from offering the service altogether.”

AB 782 proposes a clear path for local pharmacists to continue flavoring children’s medication. If not passed, Californians may have to travel far to locate a compounding pharmacy — often inaccessible to disadvantaged communities — or settle for less palatable medicines for their children. Without flavored options, children are more likely to decline these medications.

“As a mother of two sons, I know first-hand how difficult it was at times for my children to take the medicine they needed to get and stay healthy,” says McKinnor. “Making it easier for children to take their prescription medicine through my AB 782 will improve health outcomes for children in my community and across California. I’m no Mary Poppins, but her song rings true: a spoonful of (fruit flavor) will help the medicine go down.”

Supporters of AB 782 highlight several key points:

  • Regulations should prioritize children's health and societal welfare.
  • Flavored medicines boost adherence among children.
  • U.S. State Boards of Pharmacy, 49 out of 50, don't treat flavoring as compounding.
  • Public health concerns are non-existent. More than 6-million Californian children have benefited from flavored medications over the years without a single issue.
  • The BOP has permitted medicine flavoring for years without issues.

AB 782 received unanimous bipartisan approval in its Senate policy committee and is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Appropriations April 28.