Patients in New York and New Jersey Sickened by Fungal Meningitis Caused by Contaminated Steroid Injections

A previously unheard of fungal meningitis outbreak that was reportedly caused by contaminated steroid injections has killed 23 people and sickened nearly 300 patients in at least 16 states. Investigators from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have allegedly linked the rare disease to steroid shots produced at a Massachusetts-based pharmacy. CDC officials recently confirmed the type of fungus that caused the unexpected outbreak was found in unopened vials of methylprednisolone acetate manufactured at the New England Compounding Center (NECC) in September.

NECC has issued a recall for three lots of injectable steroids produced at the company's facility. The company also shut down all manufacturing operations in response to the fungal meningitis outbreak. Still, CDC officials believe as many as 14,000 patients in 23 states, including New York and New Jersey, may have received steroid injections from the allegedly contaminated lots. Although patients who received contaminated steroid shots for back pain are most at risk of contracting the disease, some of those exposed to the fungus may have received steroid injections in their knees, hips, or other joints.

Meningitis causes the membrane around the spinal cord and brain to swell in patients who contract the disease. Symptoms often include a stiff neck, fever, headache, slurred speech, and an increased sensitivity to light. Although other types of meningitis are communicable, fungal meningitis cannot be passed from one person to another. The disease must be introduced directly into a victim's spinal column through an injection or other means. Symptoms often take between two and four weeks to appear and patients who are diagnosed with fungal meningitis must undergo intravenous antifungal treatment for several months. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has advised medical facilities that used injectable products manufactured by NECC after May 21st to follow-up with their patients.

Compounding facilities like NECC are specialized pharmacies that normally create customized drugs based on a specific patient's needs. Often, a compounding facility will alter dosage, change the physical characteristics of a drug, or remove potential allergens. Unlike with drug manufacturers, the FDA has a limited ability to regulate compounding facilities. Those limits have reportedly been called into question in the wake of the fungal meningitis outbreak.

The current outbreak is allegedly not the first time NECC has created injectable drugs that were contaminated with meningitis. In 2004, an 83-year-old man reportedly died after he contracted bacterial meningitis from a drug produced at NECC. The facility allegedly reached a settlement agreement with the man's widow in 2007. If you have contracted fungal meningitis, you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss your case as soon as you are able.

Contact the skilled attorneys at the Paleudis Law Firm, LLC if you or a family member was sickened by a pharmaceutical drug or other medical product. At the Paleudis Law Firm, LLC, our diligent New York City personal injury lawyers are available to help those who were hurt by a drug company's product receive the compensation they deserve. Our dedicated attorneys have more than 45 years of experience representing clients located throughout both New York and New Jersey. To speak with a hardworking lawyer about your injury claim, contact the Paleudis Law Firm, LLC through the law firm's website or give us a call at (212) 835-6768 in New York City.

Additional Resources:

Meningitis Outbreak Toll Now 23 Dead, 284 Sickened: CDC, by Steven Reinberg and Margaret Steele, U.S. News & World Report