Update 10/10/12: A 70-year old man died in July, before the discovery of the contaminated steroid medication produced by New England Compounding Center, the Florida Department of Health reported. There are now six total cases in Florida, all in Marion County, officials said. More than 100 cases have been reported nationally, with about a dozen deaths. Gov. Rick Scott said earlier Tuesday that authorities had contacted nearly 700 of the 1,185 patients linked to facilities that got tainted medicine in Marion, Miami-Dade, Orange and Escambia counties. Health officials don’t know how many of the steroid shots have been contaminated with meningitis-causing fungus tied to the outbreak, according to the Associated Press. Investigators have said as many as 13,000 people may have received tainted shots, and about 17,700 single-dose vials sent to 23 states have been recalled. Read More at Jacksonville.com
10/8/12: There are at least five people dead and over 100 sick in five states, which includes Florida, with fungal meningitis. The meningitis has been directly linked to steroid shots for back pain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new update Monday afternoon saying as many as 13,000 people in the country may have been exposed to the contaminated steroids, Reuters reported.
Meningitis is inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include headache and neck stiffness associated with fever, confusion or alter consciousness, and vomiting. Sometimes, especially in small children, only nonspecific symptoms may be present, such as irritability and drowsiness.Fungal meningitis is not contagious.
The steroid drug was made by New England Compounding Center, a compounding pharmacy, in Massachusetts that issued a recall last week and has shut down operations. The deadly outbreak has raised questions about the safety of compounding pharmacies which have little federal oversight. These pharmacies mix solutions, creams and other medicines used to treat everything from menopause symptoms and back pain to vision loss and cancer. Unlike manufactured drugs, these products are not subject to approval by the Food and Drug Administration.
Currently the CDC is investigating the multi-state outbreak. It is recommended that clinicians should actively contact patients who have received medicines associated with three lots of preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate (80mg/ml) recalled on September 26, 2012. The potentially contaminated injections were given starting May 21, 2012.
Obviously something egregious must have been going on at the New England Compounding Center,” said Dr. William Schaffner, president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. “The breaches in good manufacturing practice and infection control must have been substantial in order for something like that to occur.”
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