FDA identifies new drugs causing meningitis - WSMV News 4

FDA identifies new drugs causing meningitis

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People with heart and eye trouble may have to worry tonight about the medicines they took.

The meningitis outbreak could involve more injections than those for back pain.

On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration said a patient who might have meningitis received a different kind of shot than the one blamed in hundreds of other cases.

Investigators also learned of fungal infections in two patients who had heart procedures.

All of it surrounds a pharmacy company called New England Compounding Center.

The FDA said it now has a "significant concern" about most everything made there.

A Hendersonville family on Monday filed a $15 million lawsuit against the company.

Janet Russell's family sued NECC claiming negligence, but clearly they are not the only ones who have a big problem with the way the company did business.

As science revealed new problems for the company at the center of the meningitis outbreak, the law did the same today.

The State Board of Pharmacy voted unanimously to allow New England Compounding Center to voluntarily surrender its license in Tennessee.

The Massachusetts company shipped tainted epidural injections to 23 states, sickening 214 patients so far.

"This has been, obviously, a catastrophe," said attorney John Smith. "After this point in time, we're going to be taking a careful look at making sure that compounding companies comply with our law."

The Food and Drug Administration on Monday revealed several other big issues surrounding NECC and its medicines, including a possible meningitis case connected with another NECC medicine, not the injectable steroid at the center of the outbreak.

Also, the FDA reported two cases of fungal infection in patients who had a NECC product used during open-heart surgery.

Combined, it was enough for the FDA to declare a "significant concern" about any of NECC's injectable drugs.

As the problems continue to mount for NECC, so too do theories about what some perceive as a possibly bigger issue.

"I think it really boils down to this drug shortage issue we're facing at a national level," said Micah Cost, Tennessee Pharmacists Association. "This particular product in this particular dosage form wasn't available so they had to seek other avenues. So really, one of the drivers of this problem is the drug shortage we're facing at a national level."

In Nashville for a speech at Meharry Medical College, the woman in charge at the FDA could not ignore the obvious.

"The FDA has been working closely with the CDC and the states, including Tennessee, to identify the source and cause of this devastating outbreak and to limit the further risk," said FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg. "We've been in close communication with Tennessee public health officials from the start and that cooperation and partnership has continued as we further investigate the situation."

The State Board of Pharmacy also plans to take action against the pharmacist in charge for NECC. That could happen by the end of the week.

In light of the new concerns, the FDA said patients should be "alerted to the potential risk of infection."

If you're worried about a recent procedure, ask your physician if he or she used any products made by NECC and watch your health carefully.

Copyright 2012 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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