Fungal Meningitis – Modern Sword of Damocles
It is difficult to wrap one’s head around the fact that the medication wrapped in those impressive-looking sterile wrappers may be as dangerous as swallowing a handful of razors. Most people take it for granted that the companies responsible for manufacturing and packaging drugs and medications do so with strict adherence to cleanliness. But the fact is not all companies are so conscientious, especially if no one is keeping an eye on them.
This is the case of New England Compounding Center (NECC) based in Framingham, Massachusetts which was responsible for the public health crisis of 2012 that has kept fungal meningitis lawyers busy. NECC manufactured batches of epidural steroid injections slated for alleviating chronic back and joint pain that were tainted with fungus. Upon investigation, the reprehensible state of NECC facilities explained how such contamination could have happened. As of December 2012, 400 cases have been filed by fungal meningitis lawyers against NECC, which has also declared bankruptcy in light of these events.
Strictly speaking, NECC is not a drug manufacturing company which normally produces bulk medications for distribution. NECC is a compounding pharmacy which is licensed to make up drugs based on the specifications stated in a prescription to meet the needs of an individual patient. As such, the NECC is not subjected to the rules and regulations imposed on drug manufacturing companies, such as site inspections. This regulatory loophole allowed NECC to operate as they wished, which has led to the deaths of 51 patients and serious illness of 730 people in the 23 states including New York where the tainted batches were distributed, and the numbers continue to rise.
The worst aspect of the outbreak is the delay in presenting. Patients given the tainted shots did not exhibit symptoms until several months after, and when it did, doctors could not figure out what was wrong. When the truth finally dawned, it hardly helped matters because there was no protocol in place for such an unlikely happening. As a result, victims did not get the treatment they needed in a timely manner, and most of those who survived the initial infection and who have already been given a clean bill of health continue to develop abscesses and related medical conditions that keep them popping in and out of the hospital like a Jack-in-the-box. For many victims, the costs of treatment, loss of income, and pain and suffering has become very high.