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In the wake of national meningitis outbreak: a rising human toll

On Behalf of | Oct 9, 2013 | Doctor Errors

By way of an update, which is perhaps timely given a batch of relevant numbers just reported in the Boston Globe, we seek to keep our New Jersey and other readers abreast of material developments in the nation’s unprecedented meningitis outbreak that occurred in 2012.

As many readers already know, that story was far from a self-contained tale of limited duration. Rather, deaths and injuries in the case, which involved contaminated injections manufactured and distributed by a Massachusetts pharmacy, continue to mount even now.

That pharmacy, the New England Compounding Center, is one of a comparatively few such entities across the country that fills a void by making specialized drugs in small quantities for select patients. Unfortunately, things at the NECC got out of hand, and large quantities of a steroid drug were distributed to scores of medical centers across the country, including in New Jersey (NECC declared bankruptcy last year and is no longer in business).

Tragically, the vials those drugs were contained in were tainted, and the numbers of dead and injured parties across the country began to soar. Current estimates list 64 people dead from the contaminated injections, with another 750 or so having meningitis-linked maladies. Many others from among the estimated 14,000 people who received shots have also reported adverse side effects.

Litigation in the matter has understandably escalated, with lawsuits targeting both NECC on grounds of product liability and scores of medical providers for alleged medical malpractice in failing to adequately investigate NECC or do requisite quality control checks on the vials of steroids.

The Globe states that more than 600 claims have been initiated against just NECC, with many of those lawsuits now consolidated before one federal court in multidistrict litigation.

Sadly, the human costs will likely continue to rise, given the number of victims who continue to add to the list of injury complaints.

Source: Boston Globe, “Victims of tainted drug face long wait for relief,” Todd Wallack, Oct. 2, 2013

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