Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Meningitis Outbreak Update: Seven Deaths Reported, New England Compounding Center Pulls Drugs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the number of deaths from an outbreak of fungal meningitis has risen to seven. The meningitis is being linked to contaminated steroid injections. The number of cases and states has risen to 64 people in nine states, which is 17 more people and two more states within one day.

Methylprednisolone acetate, a steroid that is used to treat pain and inflammation was contaminated with a fungus when given to patients. A Massachusetts-based pharmacy, The New England Compounding Center distributed the contaminated steroids. They voluntarily recalled the steroid last week and on Saturday they recalled all of their other products nationwide. They announced the recall was voluntary and that there was no indication that any of the products were contaminated.

Deaths have been reported in Michigan, Maryland, Tennessee and Virginia. There are also reported cases in Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, North Carolina and Ohio. 14 other states have received contaminated products from NECC. It was reported on the fifth that two clinics in Pittsburgh are now being investigated.

Inspections on the NECC began last Monday and are still under way. Oversight and licensing of compound pharmacies are done by state health pharmacy boards instead of having to go through FDA-mandated pre-market approval.

Fungal meningitis is not contagious like viral or bacterial meningitis. Symptoms of meningitis are all similar and can be very mild at first. Health officials are suggesting that patients who received an injection at one of the facilities beginning July 1 and started showing symptoms one to three weeks after the injections should see a doctor immediately.

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