The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated Saturday, October 6, 2012 that the death toll from the fungal meningitis is now up to seven people. The outbreak is due to contaminated steroid injections that were given to patients in their spine to treat inflammation and pain. There has also been 64 confirmed cases of the outbreak in nine states. The steroid that was contaminated by a fungus is called methylprednisolone acetate.
According to the CDC, new cases have been confirmed in Ohio and Minnesota. The medication was produced in Framingham, Mass. at the New England Compounding Center (NECC) and has been recalled. In an effort to find patients, the health officials have revealed the clinics in the 23 states that had used the contaminated medication.
“All patients who may have received these medications need to be tracked down immediately,” stated Dr. Benjamin Park of the Centers for Disease Control in a news release. “It is possible that if patients with infection are identified soon and put on appropriate anti-fungal therapy, lives may be saved.”
The state with the most confirmed cases is Tennessee with 29 cases and three deaths and is followed by Virginia with 11 cases and one death. Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Indiana and Michigan have also had cases reported. The other states that received the steroid medication include California, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia. Health officials also stated that a total of 76 medical facilities received the contaminated medication.
According to a 2003 Government Accountability Office study, almost 10% of medications prescribed in the United States were manufactured by compound pharmacies. Those drugs are not governed by FDA mandated pre-market approval. State health pharmacy boards handle the oversight and licensing of the compound pharmacies. According to the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists, compound pharmacies produce made to order drugs for people where the regular medications will not work.
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