Many of the families and patients impacted by a growing outbreak of fungal meningitis could soon be in the courtroom.
What is likely the first lawsuit related to the outbreak surfaced Friday, and it targets the pharmacy already at the center of the investigation. An attorney filed the suit in Minnesota on behalf of a patient who received a epidural steroid injection, then developed the now-deadly fungal meningitis.
The suit names the New England Compounding Center as a defendant. That company shipped 14,000 vials of epidural steroids to 75 clinics in 23 states, including Tennessee. A number of patients injected with vials from three lots became ill.
In Tennessee, the vials wound up at clinics in Nashville, Crossville and Oak Ridge.
A doctor on the front lines of the outbreak revealed it could take four to six weeks of intense IV therapy to treat the meningitis.
The problem for NECC is the Food and Drug Administration told the company it cannot mass produce medications. But that was six years ago, and apparently NECC did not follow through.
One local attorney already represents 18 families across Tennessee who are considering legal action.
"If you keep on doing something you've been told not to do, then you are subject to punitive damages for recklessness or disregard for public safety. So, hypothetically, that could be a potential claim," said attorney Randy Kinnard.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday it is now investigating 185 confirmed meningitis cases in 12 states.
Tennessee has the unfortunate distinction of having the most, with at least 50 cases and six deaths.
To view the lawsuit, visit: http://www.wsmv.com/link/593102/lawsuit-filed-over-necc-injections-pdf.
Copyright WSMV 2012 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.