Fungal Meningitis Outbreak from Tainted New England Compounding Center Epidural Steroids
What is Meningitis
Everyone’s brain and spinal cord is covered with a membrane known as meninges. An inflammation of the meninges is called meningitis.
Can Meningitis be Fatal
Yes. There are three types of meningitis: 1) viral meningitis; 2) bacterial meningitis and 3) fungal meningitis. While the first is rarely fatal, the latter two potentially are. Unlike the others, fungal meningitis is rarely contagious.
Recent Outbreak of Meningitis in the United State
A recent outbreak of fungal meningitis has caused serious concern to thousands of individuals across the country.
A pharmaceutical company in Massachusetts known as the New England Compounding Center (NECC) produced a steroid called methylprednisolone which became contaminated by a fungus. The steroid was developed to help relieve back and neck pains and was widely used by men and women who had severe symptoms. According to the New York Times, (10/11/12, p.1, col.2) 13,000 individuals received injections of the tainted steroid. So far 14 deaths have been reported and another 170 individuals in 23 states have been injured as a direct result of its usage. The rest must now wait for up to at least a month or more during the incubation period to see if this ticking time bomb will be fatal to them or cause lasting debilitating effects. In Michigan, for example, a man who lost his wife due to being injected with the contaminated steroid was informed that he, too, may have received injections from the same batch and is now at risk to have the same fate.
Compounding companies, such as NECC, have come into existence to alleviate the high cost of producing various types of drugs manufactured by the major pharmaceutical companies and are becoming a major supplier to doctors, hospitals and small pharmacies as a result. While that is definitely a plus, especially for consumers, the downside is that they are not regulated by the Federal Drug Administration the way that the major pharmaceutical companies are. Thus, they do not always meet the high standards that are set by the FDA in the production of their products. This outbreak of fungal meningitis has caused a widespread call for stricter regulations of compounding companies.
At the direction of the FDA, NECC has ceased to operate pending a full investigation and consumers and health care providers have been instructed not to use any of their products at this time.
What are the Symptoms of Meningitis
Fungal meningitis requires immediate medical treatment. If you have received epidural steroids and suffer from high fever, stiff or painful neck or are affected by light you may have contracted meningitis. Those who survive meningitis can sustain other serious conditions which can include brain damage, loss of limbs, hearing loss and kidney disease. People who believe that they may have symptoms that could result in meningitis should contact a physician immediately. Make sure you get a thorough examination.
Legal Help for Meningitis Victims
If you or a loved one have been injected with contaminated steroids, or your doctors failed to recognize the seriousness of your symptoms and complaints and did not provide proper treatment, that caused you to contract meningitis resulting in serious illness or death, fill out the Free Meningitis Defective Drug Case Evaluation form or call Finz & Finz, P.C., now at (855) TOP-FIRM to speak with an experienced Fungal Meningitis litigator.