Update: 129 Clinics Received Meds from Pharmacy Linked to Fungal Meningitis Outbreak
Steroids for back pain may not be the only contaminated medications. The Minnesota Department of Health said many clinics were customers of NECC, the implicated pharmacy in Massachusetts.
Update (3:30 p.m. Tuesday): The Minnesota Department of Health is contacting 129 clinics that received medications from the Massachusetts pharmacy blamed in the 15-state outbreak of fungal meningitis that has taken 15 lives in other states.
The agency's action comes a day after the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) announced an investigation of other products of the New England Compounding Center, where steroids blamed in the outbreak so far were made.
The state Health Department said in a news release Tuesday afternoon that the number of patients in Minnesota who got the potentially tainted drug treatments is unknown.
Original post: Many more Minnesota clinics and patients may soon find themselves involved in the 15-state outbreak of fungal meningitis that has killed 15 people and been linked to 212 infections.
The Massachusetts compounding pharmacy produced the injectible steroids that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) blames for the outbreak.
The FDA urged health care providers to alert patients who received other treatments produced by NECC "out of an abundance of caution."
NECC products under investigation includes injectible drugs used in heart and eye surgery. The list of NECC products recalls runs 71 pages long (see PDF).
For more than a week, concern in Minnesota focused on two provider organizations that used the implicated steroid to treat back-pain patients at six clinics.
Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) officials believe about 20 clinics in the state bought other kinds of steroids from NECC that are now under investigation, according to the Star Tribune. And the number of clinics that bought other kinds of injectible medications from NECC could be much larger.
"We don't even know," Richard Danila, deputy Minnesota state epidemiologist told the Star Tribune:
Danila said the Health Department has begun contacting NECC's known customers to advise them about the FDA warning.
"They need to contact their patients, either by e-mail, phone or letter, to see whether they actually have any infections that were the result of one of the NECC products," he said.
No one has died in the fungal meningitis outbreak in Minnesota, and the infection is not spread person-to-person. The MDH has confirmed the infection in five women, out of more than 800 in the state who received NECC steroids for back pain.
These are the two providers and six clinics in Minnesota that the MDH has so far identified as having provided the tainted steroids: