Contaminated steroid injections from the New England Compounding Company have claimed the lives of eight people and injured scores more who have been diagnosed with fungal meningitis.  The injections were given between July 2012 and September 2012.

17,676 potentially tainted injections called methylprednisolone acetate, were shipped from NECC to 75 clinics in 23 States and the CDC estimates over 13,000 people have received them. The steroid injection is widely used in epidurals for relief of back and neck pain.  A number of people have been diagnosed with fungal meningitis.

Meningitis is a potentially deadly inflammation of the brain or central nervous system.  It is usually caused by viruses or bacteria, but can also be brought on by fungi.  The two fungi found thus far in some patients—known as aspergillus and exserohilum—are commonly found in the air and soil.

SYMPTOMS

The fungal form of meningitis is particularly difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can be vague and mild initially, including fever, headache, nausea and stiffness of the neck, according to the CDC.  People with fungal meningitis can also experience dizziness and confusion.  Several of the patients in the current outbreak have had strokes.

CDC ISSUES HEALTH ADVISORY

On October 4, 2012 the CDC issued a Health Advisory asking physicians to contact patients who have had an injection using any of the following three lots of methylprednisolone acetate (PF) 80mg/ml:

  • Methylprednisolone Acetate (PF) 80 mg/ml Injection, Lot #05212012@68, BUD 11/17/2012
  • Methylprednisolone Acetate (PF) 80 mg/ml Injection, Lot #06292012@26, BUD 12/26/2012
  • Methylprednisolone Acetate (PF) 80 mg/ml Injection, Lot #08102012@51, BUD 2/6/2013

A list of facilities that received vials from the infected lots can be found at the CDC.

In a statement on October 8, 2012, the FDA said the “FDA is in the process of conducting additional microbial testing to confirm the exact species of the fungus.  As part of the ongoing investigation, FDA will continue to work closely with CDC and state authorities to determine whether this sample taken from the product matches the organism found in patients.” Click here to read the FDA/CDC Statements on Fungal Meningitis Outbreak.

See the Wall Street Journal article:  Some 13,000 May Have Gotten Meningitis-Linked Drug

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