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Steroid Meningitis Lawyer

Did you contract meningitis due to steroid injections?

An alarming number of Americans have contracted a rare form of fungal meningitis and in some cases, have died as a result of the disease. 13,000 people are potentially affected across 23 states. Victims of the disease appear to contract it via steroid shots to the spine in order to relieve lower back pain. Methylprednisolone acetate is the steroid in question and three specific lots have been isolated as possible causes for aspergillus, a strain of fungus causing meningitis.

The drug was made without preservatives by a Massachusetts manufacturer called New England Compounding Center. They have issued a recall. This drug was passed along to 75 clinics in the following states: California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Texas and West Virginia.

Learn More About Compounding Pharmacies and the FDA

Many were shocked to find that the compounding pharmacy that created the drugs is not formally monitored by the Food and Drug Administration. How is this possible? The answer lies in the differences between drug companies and compounding pharmacies.

The FDA is responsible for monitoring the safety of consumer products in the United States. That can range from the quality of meat to the additives in your cold medicine. Farmers, food manufacturers and drug manufacturers are all subject to the scrutiny of the FDA. Pharmacies are not.

Technically, a compounding pharmacy is using the ingredients already approved by the FDA. They might just take out one chemical that some people are allergic to or create a smaller dosage of an already approved drug for children.

These functions of creating more drugs for more types of patients make compounding pharmacies a useful industry for Americans seeking medical care. Compounding pharmacies help to make more affordable drugs and prevent shortages in the market. As such, the number of pharmacies numbers over 56,000 in the nation.

Of those pharmacies, about half are directly related to doctor's offices and local patients. About 7,500 are specialized pharmacies in advanced services. 3,000 pharmacies are sterile facilities, of which the pharmacy responsible for tainted products was one.

These pharmacies are subject to certain regulations from the state, the Drug Enforcement Agency and general integrity tests. An independent firm, the Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation Board, offers an official approval to pharmacies that volunteer to pass their inspections and requirements. These are quite strict and only 180 pharmacies have the seal of approval. The pharmacy at the center of the meningitis outbreak was not certified.

In certain circumstances, the FDA can claim authority over the compounding pharmacies. If the pharmacy makes a drug before a doctor writes a prescription, in a commercial scale of operation, for resale to individuals or markets drugs that copycat those already commercially available, then the FDA can step in. However, these aren't officially recognized regulations and aren't law.

Diagnosing Meningitis

While meningitis is a serious affliction, it doesn't have to be deadly. Symptoms may take up to a month to appear and could present as innocuous conditions. The first signs of meningitis are fever, nausea, headache and weakness or confusion. These symptoms could emerge gradually, but if you or someone you know was treated for back pain with a steroid shot then they should be tested.

Diagnosing this type of meningitis requires a spinal fluid test to see if aspergillus is present and if it's the same strain of the fungus linked to New England Compounding Center. Treatment requires multiple infusions of antifungal agents of a period of months before a patient fully recovers. Side effects for the treatment can be strong.

If you think you may be affected by the meningitis outbreak, then you should immediately consult a physician. Check to see if the steroid shots you received were linked to the contaminated batches produced by New England Compounding Center. Then speak to a personal injury lawyer to determine if you have a case against the pharmacy. Contact the Accident Attorneys' Group for a consultation.


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