According to a recent story from NBC News, many U.S. Senators continue to ask tough questions of state and federal regulators responsible for the safety of pharmaceutical products across the country. The questioning was spurred by the widespread and high-profile fungal meningitis outbreak tied to contaminated epidural shots. Over 17,000 vials of a spinal steroid injection from a single pharmaceutical compounding center were sent to clinics in 23 differen states–those steroids were contaminated with a fungus. All told about 14,000 doses were given to patients before the problem was identified and all of the steroid were recalled.
Current Infected Counts
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website on the situation, 480 people have been identified as having contracted fungal meningitis in the latest outbreak. In addition, 33 people have died. Those deaths were essentially caused by strokes that were connected to the meningitis. Seniors and other vulnerable patients were most at risk of suffering more serious complications from the meningitis.
The Illinois Department of Public Health explains that three pain clinics in the state received doses of the contaminated steroid. Two of those facilites are in Chicago and one is in Westchester. All told about 350 Illinois residents are thought to have actually gotten the epidural injection. Of that group, at least two have been positively identified as having the fungal meningitis. However, more cases may pop up. That is because the meningitis has a long incubation period. It may not be detectable for quite some time, with patients only showing symptoms weeks or even months down the road. All of this means that it remains imperative for those who may have been affected to be incredibly care about their condition. This is not something to take lightly.
New Legislation Coming?
Considering the scope of the problem, it should come as no surprise that policymakers are scrambling to figure out what went wrong and what needs to be done to ensure no similar outbreak ever happens again. For example, reported recently by NBC News, members of Congress recently grilled various regulators involved in the situation, including state officials and those at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Interestingly, FDA officials conceeded that a simlar problem might occur again, unless changes are made. That is because there remains a lack of coordination between invovled parties to properly monitor problems at these compounding facilities and to take action if those problems pose real danger to consumers. FDA representatives noted that they do not really know the details of these facilities in each state, including what they are creating, how they are regulated, or the manner they use to create products that are then sent to consumers across the country.
Some senators are already calling for federal legislation to tighten rules, coordinate efforts, and otherwise ensure a similar problem is caught before so many are harmed. However, the exact details of the possible legislation are still unknown. Most lawmakers contnue to collect information from various states to get a handle on the lay of the land before committing to a particular course of conduct.
In any event, if you or someone you know may have been harmed by this situation in Illinois, take a moment to contact the product liability attorneys at our firm to see how we can help. We are aiding those in our area affected by the meningits outbreak to ensure their legal rights are respected.
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