A nationwide outbreak of fungal meningitis has infected more than 400 patients and killed at least 29 people. The rare disease was reportedly transmitted to patients who received contaminated steroid injections manufactured by the New England Compounding Center (NECC), a Framingham, Massachusetts pharmacy. Patients in 19 states have allegedly contracted fungal meningitis after receiving the contaminated drug via spinal and joint injections for pain management. A Chicago resident who received a spinal injection at a local APAC Center for Pain Management is believed to be the second person in the State of Illinois to have contracted the deadly disease.
Meningitis causes the lining surrounding a victim’s brain and spinal column to become inflamed. Victims of the disease normally experience a stiff neck, intense headaches, numbness, weakness, light sensitivity, and fever. Symptoms of infection can take more than one month after exposure to appear. Unlike other forms of the disease, fungal meningitis cannot be transmitted from person to person. The fungus that causes the infection must be directly introduced into a victim’s system. Once diagnosed with fungal meningitis, victims must undergo several months of intravenous anti-fungal treatment.
According to the nation’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 14,000 patients in at least 23 states may have received contaminated steroid injections produced at NECC. Since the fatal outbreak began, NECC has stopped all production and issued a recall for every drug manufactured at the facility since May 21, 2012. Although tests for fungal contamination are still pending, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported on November 1st that two additional products distributed by NECC tested positive for bacterial contamination. The contaminated drugs include three batches of steroid used by doctors while performing eye surgery and a drug used during heart surgery.
Compounding facilities like NECC are small-scale specialized pharmacies that ordinarily produce individualized drugs that are not commercially available for specific patients. A compounding facility may also change the dosage, format, or ingredients of a drug. Often, such pharmacies will remove allergens or other ingredients based on a specific patient’s needs. Because compounding facilities are pharmacies, they are generally not subject to the same FDA oversight as large-scale drug manufacturers. Since the fungal meningitis outbreak began, some members of Congress have called for more federal regulatory control and oversight of the facilities.
There have already been lawsuits filed by several people who received the reportedly contaminated steroid injections produced at NECC. According to reports, some of these people have also filed suit against the doctors or medical facilities that prescribed the drug to them or administered the injections. Suits filed against NECC would attempt to find them liable as the the manufacturer of the compounded drug and would proceed as products liability actions. Suits filed against doctors or facilities would allege that they prescribed or administered a drug that they knew or should have known was unsafe.
Doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, and other health care professionals owe their patients a specific duty of care. If you were injured or someone you love was killed by a prescription drug, contact the knowledgeable attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. today. Our dedicated Chicago area medical malpractice lawyers are available 24 hours a day to assist you with your personal injury case. For a free consultation with a hardworking personal injury attorney, please call Abels & Annes, P.C. at (312) 475-9596 or contact us through our website.
Injury Lawyers Settle Auto Claim, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, October 30, 2012
Accident attorneys pursuing underinsured motorist claim, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, October 24, 2012
FDA: More Tainted Products at Firm Tied to Meningitis Outbreak, by Steven Reinberg and Margaret Steele, U.S. News & World Report
2nd Chicago case of fungal meningitis, Chicago Tribune
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