Potential Settlement Reached in Meningitis Outbreak

For victims of the multistate meningitis outbreak, financial relief may be forthcoming.

In September of 2012, health officials noticed an uptick in meningitis cases reported across the nation. Rapid investigation of the outbreak led officials to the New England Compounding Center (NECC), a Massachusetts company. NECC manufactured large quantities of compounded drugs for clinics and hospitals across the country.

Many patients receive compounded drugs from local pharmacies. When larger quantities are needed, healthcare facilities turn to poorly regulated compounding companies. Investigators of NECC found conditions that indicated safety violations including:

  • Mold was observed on disinfecting equipment.
  • Environmental control was inadequate throughout the facility and in clean rooms. Records kept by NECC reported bacteria and mold throughout the facility.
  • Vials of purportedly sterile drugs contained greenish-black foreign material. Upon examination, fungus and microbial contamination was found in each vial.

Despite the conditions, NECC continued to ship contaminated products. Compounded steroids produced by the company were injected directly into the joint area and spine of patients. As a result, 751 people were sickened in 20 states, with 64 deaths.

Since the outbreak, federal legislation improved the ability and authority of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  New laws allow the FDA to enforce standards and pursue companies that violate safety statutes.

For those sickened by the contaminated drugs, a tentative settlement between victims, NECC and their insurers is on file in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Subject to approval by a federal judge, the settlement creates an approximately $100 million fund for those affected by the outbreak.

While no amount of money can restore health or life, compensation helps victims move forward and provides a measure of justice. If you are injured through the negligence of others in North Carolina, speak with an experienced injury attorney for advice.

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