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Just a Bit of Fungus…

Contamination issues at the US National Institutes of Health have forced the agency to shut down its drug-manufacturing facility and to seek alternative sources for drugs for patients in some 46 different trials, ScienceInsider reports.

An inspection by the Food and Drug Administration uncovered fungal contamination and poor manufacturing practices at NIH's Pharmaceutical Development Section, Nature News adds. The inspection, it notes, took place in response to an anonymous tip about conditions there.

"Out of an abundance of caution, we've suspended use of all these products," Lawrence Tabak, principal deputy director of the NIH, says.

The inspection found poor maintenance procedures — such as the use of cleaning supplies that don't kill fungal or bacterial spores — and workers with exposed faces, necks, and arms, Nature News says.

"It's troubling that an institution of NIH's caliber had such serious deficiencies," Michael Carome, director of health research at Public Citizen, tells Nature News. "These clearly could have put patients at risk of harm."

Still, some patients have requested to continue to receive some of these drugs, as their conditions would worsen without them, ScienceInsider adds. The studies affected are examining treatments for autoimmune diseases, cancers, and rate genetic disorders.

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