Could the Recent Meningitis Outbreak Lead to Litigation?

Pharmaceutical litigation most frequently occurs when drug companies fail to adequately test medications prior to release or fail to properly inform consumers of the potential side effects. In these cases, the drugs are manufactured properly but the drugs themselves are flawed. But pharmaceutical litigation can also occur when good drugs are improperly manufactured, resulting in sickness and injury to the people who use them.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently investigating a multi-state outbreak of fungal meningitis that has been linked to a certain type of steroid injection. As of October 20, there have been 284 confirmed cases of fungal meningitis following steroid injections, with most cases occurring in Tennessee and Michigan, and at least one confirmed case in Illinois. This outbreak has led to 23 deaths. And because as many as 14,000 people may have received these injections, the numbers are expected to rise.

The steroid injections in question are not a new or novel treatment, as doctors frequently use similar injections to treat joint and back pain. In this particular case, however, a number of injections appear to have become contaminated with the fungus Exserohilum rostratum during the manufacturing process. The contaminated specimens have been traced to the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Massachusetts. Lawsuits in this matter will likely begin to appear once more information surfaces regarding how the vials became contaminated. In the meantime, the contaminated lots have been recalled as doctors work to contact patients who may have been exposed.