While the number of new fungal meningitis infection cases being reported to federal health officials seems to be slowing, the number of lawsuits filed throughout the country against the compounding pharmacy that allegedly caused the deadly outbreak are just starting to accumulate.
New England Compounding Center (NECC) currently faces at least 50 lawsuits brought by individuals who developed fungal meningitis or another infection after receiving a recalled epidural steroid injection or other medications that may have been contaminated due to manufacturing practices at the pharmacy.
According to the most recent update posted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week, at least 590 cases of fungal meningitis or infection have been confirmed among individuals who received medications compounded by NECC, including 37 deaths.
After sharp increases in the number of reported infections and deaths throughout October and November, the number of new cases seems to be slowing as more time passes since last exposure to the contaminated medications.
An estimated 14,000 people received shots that may have been contaminated, and an epidural steroid injection recall in early October, removing the medications from the market.
Litigation Over Fungal Meningitis Infections Just Getting Underway
Fungal meningitis infection lawsuits have been filed in various state and federal courts nationwide, with the first complaints coming weeks after the outbreak surfaced.
Cases have been brought by individuals diagnosed with fungal meningitis, spinal infections and joint infections, as well as by individuals who have had to undergo testing and medical monitoring after receiving a recalled injection, but who have not been diagnosed with an infection.
On January 31, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) will hear oral arguments on whether all federal lawsuits over the fungal meningitis outbreak should be consolidated before one judge for coordinated handling as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.
NECC has indicated that they support the formation of an MDL for the litigation, indicating that it expects hundreds of lawsuits to be filed in U.S. District Courts throughout the country in the coming months.
Centralization is designed to help reduce duplicative discovery, avoid conflicting rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of the witnesses, the parties and the courts.