Lawsuits Over Fungal Meningitis Infections Filed In Multiple States

As the number of diagnosed fungal meningitis infections continues to mount in connection with drugs from a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy, a growing number of lawsuits are being filed in states throughout the country.

Over the past two weeks, at least 230 cases of fungal meningitis have been confirmed among individuals who received injections mixed by the New England Compounding Center (NECC), including at least 15 deaths.

At least six complaints have now been filed nationwide against the pharmacy, with confirmed complaints in Florida, Michigan, Minnesota and Tennessee. In addition, the litigation is expected to continue to grow over the coming months, as product liability lawyers continue to review and file cases.

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The first lawsuit over the fungal meningitis infections was complaint brought by Barbe Puro in federal court in Minnesota, seeking class action status to represent all of the estimated 1,000 residents of that state who received potentially contaminated epidural steroid injections. Another Minnesota resident, Rosalinda Edwards, has now also filed a claim.

Tennessee has been one of the center points of the outbreak investigation, with 61 confirmed fungal meningitis infections and 8 deaths identified, which is more than any other state. In that state, a lawsuit has been filed by Janet Russell.

Michigan was the second hardest hit state, with 48 confirmed infections and 3 deaths, and at least two lawsuits have been filed in that state, by Brenda Bansale and Lyn Laperriere.

Another reported lawsuit has been filed in Florida, by Vilinda York. There have been 13 reported cases in Florida, with 3 deaths.

All of the lawsuits allege that NECC sold defective drugs that put plaintiffs at risk of contracting fungal meningitis, which causes an inflammation of brain and spine that can be deadly.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been tracking the outbreak and estimates that at least 14,000 patients actually received injections from three lots of preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate solution (MPA), compounded at NECC in Framingham, Massachusetts. Those drugs were later determined to be contaminated and subjected to a recall.

This week, the FDA warned other NECC drugs may also be involved in the outbreak, including the injectable steroid triamcinolone acetonide and a cardioplegic solution administered during heart surgery.

Not all of the filed lawsuits involve individuals with confirmed infections with fungal meningitis. Some of the plaintiffs are still awaiting test results and others have tested negative, but are seeking damages for the fear, pain and suffering caused by the exposure.

In addition to the personal injury lawsuits, there is growing pressure from lawmakers pushing for a criminal investigation of NECC’s actions. Some say it appears the compounding pharmacy vastly overstepped its licensing restrictions. Compound pharmacies are meant to fill local drug needs on a per-prescription basis. NECC sent out sales agents and sold at least 17,500 vials to 76 facilities in 23 states. Tennessee, the state hit hardest by the outbreak, revoked the company’s license to do business there this week, and the company has suspended operations and turned in its license in Massachusetts, its home state.

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