It is estimated that 14,000 people were exposed to deadly fungal meningitis after a batch of tainted steroid medication used in pain injections was shipped across the country from a Massachusetts compounding company. Unlike drug manufacturers, compounding companies are not regulated by the federal Food and Drug Administration. Instead, they’re regulated by states, where oversight can be limited, and vary widely from state to state.
Already, some patients are suing the doctors and clinics that administered injections containing the tainted steroid. 23 people died from fungal meningitis as a result of the contaminated steroid, and over 300 people have been infected. An estimated 14,000 people have been exposed to the deadly illness.
The success of the lawsuits will depend on whether or not the steroid should be legally considered a product and therefore subject to product liability laws. This option would be better for injured plaintiffs, because these laws hold products to a high standard of safety. If, however, judges decide that the steroids should be considered a medical service, it may be more difficult to prove negligence under medical malpractice laws.
Steroid injections are commonly administered to patients with back pain. Many car accident victims experience back pain as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident, and epidural steroid injections are a common treatment for this type of pain.
The question is, should the New England Compounding Center be treated as a pharmacy or a product manufacturer? And what steps can be taken to ensure this kind of outbreak doesn’t happen again? Traditionally, compounding pharmacies have only produced drugs for individual patients and have not mass produced drugs across a large scale. In recent years, more and more compounding pharmacies have increased the amount of drugs manufactured.
The NECC produced approximately 17,000 vials of the tainted steroid. Lawsuits have already been filed against the small, unregulated compounding pharmacy from injured patients in multiple states.
What can be done to prevent this from happening again? The FDA needs to have more oversight of compounding pharmacies. Any pharmacy that produces and ships large amounts of drugs across the country should be subject to consistent and strict oversight. State agencies and the FDA also need to work together to ensure the safety of all products are being administered to patients.
If you have recently received a steroid injection and have experienced any of the symptoms of meningitis, including headache, dizziness, and high fever, you should see your doctor right away. Additionally, you may have a right to pursue the drug manufacturer for compensation for your damages.
If you have questions today for a Savannah injury lawyer, give Ty a call at 1-888-689-5224.