More information is trickling out on the pharmaceutical plant in New England linked to the disasterous meningitis outbrea that has affected hundreds across the country, including in Illinois. As reported in a recent Journal Gazette story, the plant in question had obvious cleanliness problems which made it only a matter of time before serious contamination problems occured. On top of that, the current problems were not unprecedented as issues were identified long ago at the facility. Unfortunatey, changes were not made and oversight was lacking, which allowed the issue to fester–ultimately leading to this outbreak which has already affected nearly 300, killed at least 23, and left thousands open to serious health risks.
Past Problems At the Compounding Facility
The story shared information on the latest inspection of the plant, conducted after it was identified as the source of the meningitis contamination. The inspectors found obvious problems. For one thing, visible black specks of fungus in certain steroid at the facility. In addition, a leaking boiler was found near a “cleaning room” at the pharmacy–an obvious safety risk and indication of the lack of commitment to keeping the products free of possible contamination.
This isn’t the first sign of problems. According to public records the state hired an outside firm to conduct an assessment of the facility in 2006. At that time the outside investigators noted that there were contamination control problems at the facility. In addition there were no written standard instructions for how to properly operate equipment. This means that each individual employee operating the equipment may have beendoing things differently or dangerously. Standardization for safety in these sorts of situations is essential.
The state has moved to provide an initial layer of accoutability. The governor announced that the facility’s license would be revoked and the licenses of three pharmacists connected to the outbreak will also be revoked. But, the policymaker also pointed out that the current regulatory scheme may be inadequate. As we have previously discussed when touching on this situation, proper oversight of these compounding plants are generally left to the states–there is little federal oversight. Therefore, even though the drugs are sent between states, there is little that residents of one state can do if there are serious problems at a plant in another state.
In the wake of this outbreak, however, changes should be made to crack down on these problems. Those changes might include more centralized federal oversight. It might also mean that individual states act to tighten their individual accountability tools to ensure these plants are safe. The governor in this case has already called for stepped up state regulations, including more surprise inspections.
Meningitis Lawyers in Chicago
The more information that comes out on this situation, the more it is clear that the incident could and should have been prevented. If you or someone that you know may have been affected by this outbreak in our area (the contaminated steroid was used in at least 3 Illinois facilities), then please get in touch with our office. We are working with all those hurt to ensure their rights are respected and they have all of the support necessary to get through the ordeal.
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