As many as 650 patients in New Jersey may have received steroid injections that health officials believe were contaminated with a fungus that is blamed for the recent meningitis outbreak in the United States, according to NJ chiropractor professionals in the state.
Government officials along with lawyers from the D’Arcy Johnson Day law firm have begun investigating the link between spinal injections of methylprednisolone acetate, a steroid used to treat back pain, and a multi-state outbreak of fungal meningitis.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said 119 patients in 10 states have been diagnosed with fungal meningitis, and 11 have died from the disease. All of the affected patients received steroid injections prepared by New England Compounding Center, a compounding pharmacy in Framingham, Massachusetts.
Health officials and non-profit group are using the recent meningitis outbreak to highlight the lack and failure of oversight efforts and government programs that are meant to prevent and monitor medical suppliers.
The CDC reports that six New Jersey medical facilities were using the steroids prepared by the Framingham pharmacy: Central Jersey Orthopedics Specialists in South Plainfield, Edison Surgical Center in Edison, IF Pain Associates/Isaiah Florence in Teaneck, Premier Orthopedics Surgical Associates in Vineland, South Jersey Healthcare in Elmer and Vineland, and Comprehensive Pain Management in Sparta.
“Each day, we’re learning about more fugal meningitis cases associated with this particular batch of drugs,” said Andrew D’Arcy, a Partner at D’Arcy Johnson Day, in a press statement. “We want to encourage patients who received injections at any of these six New Jersey medical facilities between May 21 and September 26, 2012 to be aware of the symptoms of fungal meningitis, to seek medical attention immediately if they believe they have been infected, and to understand their rights to institute lawsuits for medical malpractice and/or defective drugs if they are affected by the disease.”
The outbreak has cause headaches and fear for physical therapist Freehold New Jersey. New England Compounding Center shipped approximately 17,700 vials of methylprednisolone acetate to about 75 medical facilities in 23 states. The CDC estimates that as many as 13,000 people were exposed to the potentially contaminated drug before the pharmacy’s voluntary recall on September 26, 2012.
Fungal meningitis is not transmitted from person to person. The disease is treated with antifungal medications, usually administered through an IV line in the hospital.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms of fungal meningitis include headache, fever, nausea, stiffness of the neck, confusion, dizziness, and discomfort from bright lights. It is important to note that patients may exhibit only one or two of these symptoms, and the symptoms may be mild. Most patients exhibited symptoms between one and four weeks after their injection.