Meningitis Infections Linked to Steroid Treatments for Back Pain

by David M. Paris | October 9th, 2012

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is coordinating a multistate investigation of confirmed reports of meningitis, in patients who received epidural steroid injections.   Health officials have traced an outbreak of this rare fungal meningitis to the New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts, which distributes a steroid injection commonly used to treat back pain. At least 75 clinics in 23 states received batches of the steroid drug and have been told to notify all affected patients.  Several clinics in Ohio received lots of this steroid including: BKC Pain Specialists in Marion; Marion Pain Clinic in Marion; Cincinnati Pain Management in Cincinnati, and Ohio-Spine Rehabilitation Center in Dublin.  Over 100 people have now been affected, and eight have died.

Three lots of the steroid, methylprednisolone acetate, have been recalled by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), involving 17, 676 vials of steroid. According to the CDC, the contaminated injections were given starting May 21, 2012. The New England Compounding Center voluntarily shut down their manufacturing center on October 1, and is currently being inspected by the FDA.

Fungal Meningitis

Fungal meningitis is a non-contagious form of the disease.  Reported symptoms may involve mild stroke type symptoms, including slurred speech, and difficulty walking and urinating.  Other symptoms include worsening and severe headache, fever, neck stiffness, sensitivity to light, nausea dizziness, redness or swelling at the injection site.  Patients who may have been affected have been urged by the CDC to contact their physicians.  The earlier the disease is diagnosed and treated, the better the patient’s chance of survival.

Legal Rights of the Injured

The law in most states provides claims for persons who have been seriously injured by a prescription drug that was manufactured incorrectly or unsafely.  Damages sought against pharmaceutical companies for dangerous drug side effects and injuries include:

  • Physical pain and suffering, mental anguish and physical impairment;
  • Medical expenses associated with the treatment;
  • Loss of earnings and/or earning capacity;
  • In the case of a patient’s death, the family of the victim may file a wrongful death action and seek damages.

If you or a loved one have developed fungal meningitis as a result of steroid injections, please contact Nurenberg Paris.