Sad news continues to emerge regarding the fungal meningitis infection traced to contaminated spinal injections. According to a recent NBC News report, the total count of infected patients and fatalities continue to rise. As of Wednesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that 247 patients have been identified as having fungal meningitis. In addition, the death count has risen to nineteen. The story notes that the sickest patients have taken the meningitis harder than others. Most deaths have been caused by strokes connected to the meningitis. This is a common trend with various acts of medical malpractice or pharmaceutical negligence–the patients with the most intial vulnerabilities face the most serious consequences from the problems.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administation (FDA) has identified the source of the problem, the NECC–a “compounding” pharmacy in New England. The FDA conducted a sweep of the NECC facility and voiced serious concern about the state of the drugs there. Following the raid there were serious concerns about the sterility of many of the products created and send out by the business.
As the incident drags on and more and more individuals become infected, the attention of federal officials are increasingly drawn to the incident. The NBC News story reports that several members of Congress voiced concern about the incident. For example, a pair of U.S. Senators have written to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration seeking an explanation for how a contamination this widespread could have occurred. In addition, many suspect that Congresional hearings will eventually be called on the matter–though none have actually been ordered just yet.
The federal officials were told by members of the FDA about the serious cleanliness concerns at this particular plant. In addition regulators at both the state and federal level indicated that they lacked powers to properly regulate these compounding pharmacies such that the problem could have been prevented. As a result FDA officials have asked Congress to offer clarification on some of those powers. This is particularly important because there have long been concerns about the dangers posed by these facilities. In most cases they are licensed only to create individual products at a doctor’s request. However, sometimes, as seems to be the case here, those limits are broken and drugs are mass produced. When cleanliness and sterilization is a problem, the fact that the drugs are mass produced means that thousands might ultiamtely be affected. It is not a stretch to suggest that this particular incident could very well lead to serious changes in how all of these compounding pharmaceutical plants are regulated
Affected Illinois Residents
Local residents should remember that Illinois is one of the states where the drugs were sent and used on patients. There have already been reported incidents of fungal meningitis developing as here a result of a spinal steroid injections. The Illinois Department of Publi Health notes that at least three clinics adminsitered the drug to patients–APAC in Westchester, APAC Lincoln Park, and Chicago’s Thorek Memorial Hosptial.
If you or someone you know may have been hurt by this contamination, please get in touch with our Chicago product liability attorneys. We are investigating this incident and are working with those in our state harmed by the infection.
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