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Consumer Alert: Fungal Meningitis Outbreak
October 15, 2012
The Center for Disease control has confirmed that as many as 14,000 patients may have been exposed to fungal meningitis from tainted spinal steroid injections. Fungal meningitis is a rare but potentially deadly inflammation to the brain or central nervous system. The potentially contaminated injections were given starting May 21, 2012, and continued through the recall of these products on September 26, 2012. As of October 15, 2012, the tainted injections are implicated in 15 deaths and 200 cases of fungal meningitis.
The Minnesota Department of Health has currently confirmed 4 fungal meningitis cases in Minnesota believed to be linked to the tainted drugs. Facilities in Minnesota which received these drugs include Medical Advanced Pain Specialists’ (MAPS) clinics in Minneapolis, Fridley, Shakopee and Maple Grove, and the Minnesota Surgery Center in Edina and Maple Grove. A full list of facilities which received the medication is available on the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/hai/outbreaks/meningitis-facilities-map.html.
In addition to Minnesota, the drugs were shipped to 22 other states: California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Texas, and West Virginia.
The number of meningitis cases is likely to increase in the coming days and weeks. Patients may come down with the illness one to four weeks after receiving the injections. In addition to typical meningitis symptoms, like headache, fever, nausea, and stiffness of the neck, people with fungal meningitis may also experience confusion, dizziness, and discomfort from bright lights. Patients might just have one or two of these symptoms.
The drugs have been traced back to a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy in Farmingham, called the New England Compounding Center (NECC). NECC recalled the tainted medication, a preservative-free injectable steroid (methylprednisolone acetate (80mg/ml)), on September 26, 2012. According to the FDA, NECC shut down its operations entirely on October 3, 2012. On October 6, 2012, NECC voluntarily expanded its recall to include all products currently in circulation that were compounded at and distributed from its facility in Framingham, Massachusetts.
Compounding pharmacies such as NECC are only permitted to make small amounts of medications based on specific prescriptions for individual patients, and as a result, State and federal regulators are investigating how thousands of vials of preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate were shipped to healthcare facilities in multiple states. The personal pharmacist license of Barry Cadden, the pharmacist in charge of pharmacy operations at the NECC, is subject to a restriction preventing him from practicing, at least for now, according to public records.
If you or a loved one has been exposed to steroidal injections from NECC, and have contracted fungal meningitis or experienced any of the symptoms described here, please feel free to contact our offices at 1-800-553-9910, or contact us by email by clicking contact us. We are actively investigating these claims.
 See NECC press release at: http://www.neccrx.com.
 See the full list of recalled products at: http://www.neccrx.com.
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