The Chicago Personal Injury Law Blog

Meningitis-Tainted Steroid Injections Shipped to Chicago

Meningitis-tainted steroid injections, typically used to alleviate back pain, made their way to Chicago, reports The Associated Press.

The compounding pharmacy-produced injections are suspected of causing a meningitis outbreak that has claimed five lives, sickened at least 35, and could affect thousands of others. So far, meningitis cases have been reported in six states: Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Florida, North Carolina and Indiana. However, shipments were made to 23 states in all.

According to the AP, the dirty drugs were formulated at a compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts, the New England Compounding Center. These types of pharmacies typically produce unique combinations or dosages of drugs that aren't available commercially. For example, they might provide a pain reliever in a lozenge (cough drop) form instead of a pill.

The manufacturer of these questionable injections, the New England Compounding Center of Framingham, Mass., has recalled a total of 17,676 single-dose vials of the steroid, preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate. The vials were distributed in 23 states between July and September. The FDA advises that physicians and patients avoid all products produced by the manufacturer.

The fungal meningitis found in the injections is not contagious, unlike the more common strains. It can be treated with high-dose antifungal medications. Unfortunately, fungal meningitis has an incubation period of anywhere from a few days to a month before symptoms appear, which means many who received tainted steroid injections could be sick and not yet know. If you, or a loved one, have received injections for back pain between July and September, you may want to contact your physician immediately, especially if you have a compromised immune system.

Meningitis is characterized by swelling of the brain and spinal cord membranes. Common symptoms include fever and chills, severe headache, nausea, dizziness, slurred speech, sensitivity to light, stiff neck, and difficulty walking and urinating.

As patients have already died from the fungal meningitis outbreak, wrongful death lawsuits are likely. In wrongful death cases, the goal of a lawsuit is to put the family in as good of a position financially as they would have been absent their loved one's death. Common factors used to determine damages include lost earning capacity, loss of consortium, and medical bills.

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