January 12, 2013


Tainted Steroid Shots Cause Meningitis, Infection in Minnesota Patients
-- Tainted medications released by the New England Compounding Center have caused fungal meningitis and other infections in patients around the nation. --

    January 12, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Nearly four months after the New England Compounding Center (NECC) issued a recall on three lots of its Methylprednisolone Acetate injections, new cases of fungal meningitis and other infections caused by the tainted drug are still surfacing. Methylprednisolone Acetate is an injectable steroid that is used primarily to treat patients with chronic lower back pain.

The predominant contaminant in the outbreak is believed to be a black mold called Exserohilum. The pathogens were allowed to contaminate the recalled lots of steroid injections sometime during the compounding process, causing fungal meningitis and other types of infections in some patients who received the shots. Throughout the country, as many as 14,000 patients were exposed to the contaminated steroid injections.

Latest update: affected patients in Minnesota and nationwide

As of January 9, 2013, there have been 664 reported cases of infections linked to the contaminated steroid injections. At least 40 of these infections have been fatal. While fungal meningitis is receiving the most media attention, spinal and peripheral joint infections near the injection site have also been widely observed. What's more, while reported meningitis cases are beginning to wane, spinal infections linked to the tainted steroids are actually on the rise since they can take longer to detect.

In Minnesota, 10 patients have contracted meningitis since the beginning of the outbreak in late September. There have been two additional reports of spinal infections connected to the tainted steroids.

Six different Minnesota medical facilities received Methylprednisolone Acetate from the three recalled lots: the MAPS Medical Pain Clinics in Minneapolis, Fridley, Shakopee and Maple Grove, and the Minnesota Surgery Centers in Edina and Maple Grove. However, in the wake of the devastation caused by the meningitis outbreak, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it cannot verify the safety of other drugs made at the New England Compounding Center. At least 111 Minnesota hospitals and clinics received other drugs from the NECC, including prominent health care providers like Allina Medical Clinics and the Mayo Clinic Health Systems.

Should there be additional oversight for compounding pharmacies?

Over the last few months, the FDA has been scrambling to address major systematic concerns raised by the fungal meningitis outbreak. In late December, the agency held a hearing to help establish a framework for how the federal government and states should regulate compounding pharmacies in the future. Currently, it is up to state pharmacy boards to oversee compounding pharmacies, but many compounding pharmacies are evolving from local operations into large-scale distributors with clients in several states. While some states are already tightening regulatory oversight on compounders operating with their borders, the recent outbreak has the FDA asking if additional federal supervision may be required.

Feds call for MRIs for any patient who received steroid shots but did not improve

On the individual level, government agencies have been struggling to keep up with the rising tide of patient complaints. On December 20, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged doctors to consider MRI scans for patients whose existing pain simply did not get better following injection; previous recommendations had only called for MRIs if patients exhibited new or worsening symptoms.

"We know we're not out of the woods," Dr. Tom Chiller, the deputy chief of the mycotic disease branch of the CDC told The New York Times. "People could still be harboring or developing infections in their spines now."

Contact a lawyer if you've been notified that you received a tainted shot

If you've been notified that you received a contaminated injection, you may be entitled to compensation even if you did not develop meningitis. Additional treatment and testing expenses, as well as personal anxiety, are real costs even to those who did not develop a more serious illness.

One way to help prevent similar outbreaks in the future is to hold those who caused the string of meningitis and spinal infections accountable for their actions. If you received a tainted steroid shot, it is important to learn more about your rights by contacting a steroid injection lawyer in your area.

Article provided by GoldenbergLaw, PLLC
Visit us at http://www.goldenberglaw.com

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