The Massachusetts pharmaceutical company accused of distributing a contaminated steroid faces its first lawsuit since the fungal meningitis outbreak began across the country.
Barbe Puro sued the New England Compounding Center in U.S. District Court in St. Paul, Minn., on Oct.11. Although Puro has filed a lawsuit, she has not been diagnosed with fungal meningitis.
Janet Russell, a woman from Hendersonville, Tenn., said she was diagnosed with fungal meningitis and suffered physically as a result of receiving the tainted steroid. She and her husband, Robert Russell, filed a lawsuit in a Tennessee state court on Oct. 15. The Russells are suing for $15 million.
The outbreak update
As of Oct. 15, 212 people have been diagnosed with fungal meningitis after being injected with the tainted steroids, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So far, 15 people have died, the CDC said. As of Oct. 15, 15 states have reported cases of fungal meningitis stemming from the contaminated medication.
The New England Compounding Center, which is a compounding pharmacy in Framingham, Mass., suspended operations after the outbreak and recalled thousands of doses suspected of being contaminated.
The Boston Globe reported that, prior to the outbreak, the company was preparing drugs in bulk to be distributed nationwide. One of the functions of compounding pharmacies is to customize drugs for doctors who can then prescribe medication specific to their patients’ need.
The first of many lawsuits
More lawsuits are expected to be filed because of the disaster, and Puro’s complaint anticipates it: in her lawsuit, Puro asks the federal court for class-action status, to include other people who have been injured due to the contaminated steroid.
Puro said in her complaint that she received an injection in September of the methylprednisolone acetate steroid in her neck to ease her chronic back pain. Puro claimed she was nauseous and had headaches after receiving the injection but did not think these symptoms were anything of out the ordinary. Afterward, Puro said the Minnesota Department of Health contacted her and told her that she may have been treated with the tainted steroid medication.
Puro’s attorney, Jeff Montpetit, said Puro was tested this past weekend for fungal meningitis. Montpetit said the results of her spinal tap are pending.
Meanwhile, 71-year-old Janet Russell said was diagnosed with fungal meningitis as a result of receiving a steroid injection in August.
Russell said in her lawsuit, filed in Davidson County Circuit Court, that she has back pain and she went to the Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center for her yearly steroid shot. Afterward, Russell said she had a headache and a fever, which are symptoms of meningitis, and was admitted to the hospital. She later had a stroke, which caused her to become physically deformed and disfigured, her lawsuit said.
Andrew Paven, a spokesman for the New England Compounding Center, declined to comment to the media on the lawsuits, saying the company has not seen either complaint.
Meningitis causes the membrane surrounding the spinal cord and the brain to become inflamed. Meningitis symptoms include headache, fever, nausea and vomiting.
If you have received steroid injections in recent months and have experienced these symptoms, contact your doctor if these symptoms persist. If you have already been diagnosed with fungal meningitis due to the tainted medication, contact a medical malpractice attorney for legal advice on how to receive compensation for your injury.
Karen Nickels is a health blogger who likes to follow current events. If you believe that you have been affected by the recent meningitis outbreak, be sure to seek legal help from a medical malpractice attorney.