Methylprednisolone Acetate Outbreak | Strokes, Death, and other Injuries

October 5, 2012

The New England Compounding Center (“NECC”) in Massachusetts has closed and surrendered its license following the outbreak of fungal meningitis (aspergillus meningitis) traced to a steroid produced in its laboratories and distributed across the United States.

The NECC manufactures and distributes methylprednisolone acetate 80 mg/mL, an epidural injection administered to treat lower back pain and inflammation, often among elderly patients. Following distribution of the drug, on September 21, 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) was alerted to the onset of meningitis in a patient in Tennessee who had received the steroid injection 19 days earlier. On September 28, 2012, the CDC received reports of fungal meningitis outbreaks in other states, including Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. To date, 35 patients who received the methylprednisolone injection have been diagnosed with fungal meningitis, and 5 of those patients have died.

Aspergillus meningitis is a serious infection, and requires intravenous treatment at a hospital. Symptoms present between 1-4 weeks after receiving the steroid injection, and include dizziness, nausea, headaches, neck stiffness, and balance problems. The infection may be treated with an antifungal drug called voriconazole; health officials are waiting to confirm the infection before they try voriconazole because the side effects from the antifungal treatment can be severe, including kidney and liver damage.

The NECC has voluntarily recalled three lots of the methylprednisolone acetate, which does not contain preservatives. At least one vial of the liquid steroid has been found to contain levels of fungus visible to the naked eye.

The Federal Drug Administration has widened its original recall of methylprednisolone acetate to include not only methylprednisolone, but also other steroid compounds compounded by the NECC, such as betamethasone, dexamethasone, triamcinolone, two local anesthetics called lidocaine and bupivicaine, the blood pressure drug clonidine, and saline.

Have you or a loved one received a steroid injection and experienced any symptoms of fungal meningitis as a result? If so, our personal injury attorneys are interested in speaking with you.  Contact Gibbs Law Group toll-free at (866)981-4800 or fill out the form to the right for an attorney consultation today.