According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, the deadly fungal meningitis outbreak from potentially tainted steroid injection medications involved a 19th state with the first case reported in Rhode Island.
Rhode Island joins Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
The contaminated methylprednisolone acetate was made by the New England Compounding Center of Framingham, Mass., which has been at the center of the ongoing outbreak of fungal meningitis.
The fungal meningitis outbreak continues to spread with two more compounding pharmacies coming under scrutiny. The CDC agency said that 10 new cases of fungal meningitis have been identified in the past 2 days, bringing the total to 354.
More Compounding Pharmacies under fire
According to Massachusetts health officials, they had found "significant issues" at Infusion Resource, of Waltham, Mass., which prepares sterile injectable medications.
Florida health officials have suspended the license of Rejuvi Pharmaceuticals, after an inspection found multiple violations of "a number of statutes and rules relating to the cleanliness of the prescription department, the dispensing of medications, the compounding of medications, and record keeping."
Meningitis death toll
The CDC said the death toll from the outbreak remains at 25, all associated with cases of fungal meningitis.
According to the FDA, the company found several cases of bacteria and mold growing in rooms meant to produce sterile products but apparently did nothing to correct the situation.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's power to regulate compounded drugs similar to those linked to a deadly meningitis outbreak is legally nonbinding and lacks the authority of stringent standards imposed on drug manufacturers, according to a recent congressional report.
New England Compounding Center Firestorm
The company shipped about 17,000 vials of preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate in three separate lots to pain clinics in 23 states, where it was mainly injected into the spine of patients with chronic back pain.
One of the three lots has been shown to be contaminated with the black mold Exserohilum rostratum, which has also been isolated from many fungal meningitis patients.
The Massachusetts Board of Pharmacy has permanently yanked the company's license to operate in the state, as well as those of the company's three principal pharmacists.
There also are 7 reported cases of infections after the contaminated steroid was injected into a joint such as a knee, hip, shoulder or elbow.
Shezad Malik is an Internal Medicine and Cardiology specialist, a licensed Texas Medical Doctor and Defective Medical Device and Dangerous Drug Attorney. Dr Shezad Malik Law Firm has offices based in Fort Worth and Dallas and represents people who have suffered catastrophic and serious personal injuries including wrongful death, caused by the negligence or recklessness of others.