A custom formulation of a steroid used to treat back pain may be responsible for a Meningitis outbreak that has claimed the lives of five, sickened at least thirty-five, and could affect thousands of others. So far, the damage has been limited to six states: Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Florida, North Carolina and Indiana. However, the drugs were also distributed to New Jersey clinics as recently as a few days ago, reports CBS New York.
According to The Associated Press, the questionable injections were formulated at a compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts, the New England Compounding Center. Compounding pharmacies typically produce specialty combinations or dosages of drugs that aren’t available commercially. For example, they might provide a pain reliever in a lozenge (cough drop) form instead of a pill.
The producer of these tainted steroids, the New England Compounding Center of Framingham, Mass., has recalled a total of 17,676 single-dose vials of the steroid, preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate. The vials were distributed in 23 states between July and September. The FDA advises that physicians and patients avoid all products produced by the manufacturer.
The form of meningitis found in the injections is a fungal infection that is not contagious between individual, unlike the more common strains. It is treated with high-dose antifungal medications. Unfortunately, it has an incubation period of anywhere from a few days to a month before symptoms appear, which means many who received the steroid could be sick and not yet know.
Meningitis is characterized by swelling of the brain and spinal cord membranes. Common symptoms include fever and chills, severe headache, nausea, dizziness, slurred speech, sensitivity to light, stiff neck, and difficulty walking and urinating.
So far, thirty-five people have become ill and five have passed as a result of the fungal outbreak. In wrongful death cases, the goal of a lawsuit is to put the family in as good of a position financially as they would have been absent the death. Common factors used to determine damages include lost earning capacity, loss of consortium, and medical bills.
- Consult a New York Personal Injury Law Attorney (FindLaw)
- Meningitis outbreak spotlights safety of custom-mixed drugs (Associated Press)
- Wrongful Death FAQ (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
- Defective Medical Devices (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)