On Monday, October 22nd, the CDC announced that 3 more people have died from the national meningitis tragedy, bringing the total deaths to 23. There have now been 297 non-fatal cases, and of the approximately 14,000 people who received the contaminated steroid, 12,000 have been contacted.
The FDA is currently investing two additional drugs made by the New England Compounding Center (NECC) that appear to be linked to the fungal meningitis outbreak. They have received reports of two heart transplant patients who developed fungal infections after being given one of these drugs during surgery. The NECC has recalled all of the drugs produced at the facility and has surrendered its state license.
According to recent press reports, a 2006 investigation of the NECC revealed inadequate contamination controls along with other insufficiencies related to operation procedures. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce has requested up to 10 years of records from the drug company. Furthermore, two members of the House Oversight Committee appealed to the Government Accountability Office to investigate the pharmacy compounding industry with a goal to reforming state and federal rules so as to prevent this type of tragedy in the future.
On Tuesday, October 23rd, Massachusetts launched a criminal investigation into the specialty pharmacy. The Massachusetts Office of Health and Human Services started investigating the pharmacy on September 26 and the “Preliminary Investigation Report of NECC” is now available online.