Lawsuit Filed Alleging Tainted Injections Lead to Deadly Meningitis Outbreak

By October 12, 2012 July 18th, 2019 Dangerous Drugs

As a pharmaceutical liability attorney, I’ve written many times about the dangers of tainted or insufficiently sterilized drugs and medical equipment. The consequences can be serious: new infections from interventions that were supposed to help, often in the patients who can least afford to be sick. Recently, the American public has seen such an outbreak connected to a steroid injection sold by the New England Compounding Center. The drugs were reportedly contaminated with fungus, leading to 169 confirmed cases of fungal meningitis as well as one case of a different infection. The NECC has recalled more than 17,000 vials from lots believed to be contaminated, and as of Friday, one recipient of the injections has sued.
According to the Associated Press, the lawsuit was filed by Barbe Puno of Minnesota, who received the steroid injection for back pain. She suffered headaches and nausea after the injection, but thought it was normal until the Minnesota Department of Health contacted her to inform her she was one of the recipients of the tainted drugs. Since then, she has undergone a spinal tap to test for meningitis, which underlies part of her lawsuit’s claims for physical pain and medical expenses. The lawsuit seeks class-action status, which means as many as 14,000 people—the number believed to have received the tainted drug—could join in. Many more lawsuits are expected.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Oct. 11 that a total of 170 people in 11 states developed infections after receiving the tainted drugs—and 14 deaths are tied to the drugs. The contamination was discovered by an inspection of unopened lots of the drug at the NECC in Framingham, Mass. Since that inspection in late September, three lots of the steroid, totaling 17,676 vials, have been recalled. This is a very serious outbreak, because meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, and late treatment can allow serious complications like sepsis, gangrene and nervous system damage. Without fast treatment, the victim can die or be left permanently disabled. NECC is not required to comply with FDA law, but it certainly must follow state-law requirements to make sure its facilities are safe—and as a dangerous drug lawyer, I suspect it’s about to face a lot of litigation as a result of its failure.
At Carey, Danis & Lowe, we focus our practice on helping families that have suffered injuries or illness because of an unsafe drug. That can include drugs that have unsafe side effects even when used as directed, as well as contaminated drugs like this and drugs that were manufactured or mis-packaged to cause a dangerous over- or underdose. When prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs or medical devices have these kinds of serious safety flaws, victims can and should hold the manufacturer legally responsible for any injuries that result. Our defective drug attorneys help victims and their families seek financial compensation for all of their injuries, including physical and emotional injuries and any permanent disability, as well as the often-steep financial costs of dealing with a serious illness.


Based in St. Louis, Carey, Danis & Lowe represents clients across the nation who are ready to seek justice from the drug and medical device manufacturers that harmed them. For a free, confidential case evaluation, send us a message through our website or call us toll-free at 1-877-678-3400.
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