As of October 11, the number of deaths linked to the outbreak of fungal meningitis is up to 14. The meningitis emanated from steroid solutions used for epidural injections that were contaminated In the manufacturing process.
The outbreak has been linked to one business called the New England Compounding Center. It is located in Framingham, Massachusetts and is not a direct manufacturer of the medication. It is not for certain that the problem emanated there, but it’s highly likely.
NECC is actually a pharmacy that mixes up methylprednisolone in a preservative free manner. There are some pain management doctors who prefer to use preservative free solutions as there are some studies showing they have less complications. When obtained directly from the manufacturer, methylprednisolone contains some preservatives.
Normally, the FDA monitors manufacturers of steroid medication. But they do not strictly monitor pharmacies, of which the New England Compounding Center falls into that category. Congress will probably look to have the FDA start increased regulatory oversight of compounding pharmacies.
As of October 11, the number of cases around the country is up to 170 and people in 11 states have been affected. The most cases, 49, have been seen in Tennessee. There have been others seen in Michigan, Virginia, Indiana, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, New Jersey and the most recent addition is in Idaho.
There have been no cases at all in Arizona.
Arizona Pain Specialists does not use methylprednisolone and received no medications from the New England Compounding Center.
Overall, 76 clinics received the methylprednisolone from the recalled lots from New England Compounding Center. Those clinics are located in 23 states, of which Arizona is not one of them at all. Of note, Nevada received a significant amount of the medications but all of it was recalled prior to use.
The incubation period for this fungal meningitis is between one and four weeks. The fact that the injections are being done so close to the spine makes it the reason people are being affected. Unlike bacterial meningitis, fungal meningitis is not transmitted person-to-person. The only way it is transmitted in this situation is if a person actually received one of the steroid injections. If the injection was received into a joint, it still may cause an infection, but not meningitis.