Passive Regulatory Laws for NECC May Be To Blame For Meningitis Outbreak

Many people believe that the minimal regulations placed on New England Compounding Centers (NECC) are to blame for the recent fungal meningitis outbreak affecting approximately 23 states nationwide. Subsequently, the contamination of their injectable steroid used to treat back pain may have been avoided with the introduction of stricter regulations. However, compounding pharmacies, such as NECC, are responsible for the creation of their own drugs and are therefore not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Concern regarding the current outbreak began on September 21, 2012, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was notified by the Tennessee Department of Health of a patient with the onset of meningitis. According to the report, the onset of meningitis came approximately 19 days after the patients had received an epidural steroid injection at a Tennessee ambulatory surgery center (ASC). Initial tests of the patient’s blood were negative. However, subsequent testing revealed that Aspergillus fumigatus was isolated from the cerebral spinal fluid by fungal culture.

Upon further investigation, officials at the FDA conducted an inspection of NECC facilities. On October 1, federal inspectors found a sealed vial of the steroid in question that contained a large amount of fungus particles.

The NECC steroid injection has since been recalled and hospitals are being asked not to use any of their other products. The pharmacy had shipped 17,676 vials of this potentially contaminated solution to 75 clinics in 23 states, according to Massachusetts and federal health officials. Furthermore, clinics around the United States have begun to warn those that may have been contaminated by the dangerous fungus. Accordingly, anyone that has showed signs of illness following a spinal injection are being urged to contact a doctor quickly.

As of October 4, 35 cases of meningitis contamination have been detected, five of which resulted in the death of the individual. However, federal regulators are worried that a significant amount of cases will continue to reveal themselves over the next few weeks to the long incubation period of the fungus.

Meningitis refers to inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord known as the meninges. The inflammation is usually caused by an infection frequently with a bacteria or virus, but meningitis can also be caused by less common pathogens such as fungi. The severity of illness and the treatment for meningitis differ depending on the cause. Thus, it is important to know the specific cause of meningitis.

Fungal meningitis occurs when the protective membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord are infected with a fungus. Fungal meningitis can develop after a fungus spreads through the bloodstream from somewhere else in the body, as a result of the fungus being introduced directly into the central nervous system, or by direct extension from an infected body site next to the central nervous system.

Symptoms of fungal meningitis are similar to symptoms of other forms of meningitis, however they often appear more gradually and can be very mild at first. 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. However, if the condition is allowed to progress, it may become fatal.

Do I Have a Meningitis Lawsuit?

The trial lawyers at The Senators (Ret.) Firm, LLP have decades of experience navigating through complex legislative and regulatory issues and litigating high stakes cases all over the nation. Our law firm focuses on the representation of plaintiffs in meningitis lawsuits. We are currently accepting new cases in all 50 states.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with meningitis after receiving a spinal cord steroid injection, you may be entitled to financial compensation. For a free case review, please click the link below or call toll free 24 hrs/day 1-(949) 557-5800.