Contaminated Drug Seller Has Spotty Past

The damage keeps coming for a Massachusetts company that sold health care providers a contaminated steroid shot linked to at least 170 cases of fungal meningitis and 14 deaths.

The death toll has risen steeply this week, prompting intense media coverage and placing the maker of the steroid, the New England Compounding Center, under scrutiny and subject to potential legal action from patients who were harmed.

And  it may not be the first time the company has sold a shot that caused a fatal case of meningitis.

Media Reports: Company Acted Without Proper License

Authorities have said the company, which makes its own pharmaceuticals from wholesale drugs, is allowed to operate without federal oversight because it is only approved by Massachusetts to fulfill individual prescriptions for patients, not bulk sales. Such “compounding facilities” began to surface about a decade ago and are now a $1 billion-plus industry, according to the industry’s lobbying organization. They are overseen at the state level, and thus their products are not reviewed and approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

But it appears the New England Compounding Center was selling the steroid in large quantities to 75 health care providers from Florida to California. In all, more than 17,500 doses of the steroid were shipped since May 21, 2012, and as many as 13,000 patients might have received an injection of the tainted steroid for pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Not the First Sign of Trouble

The New England Compounding Center settled a lawsuit brought in 2004 by the family of a 93-year-old man who died from meningitis a year and a half after receiving a shot made by the factory, The Associated Press reported. The man died from bacterial meningitis, a more common—and contagious—form of the brain and spine infection. The lawsuit alleged a shot made by the company was responsible.

The terms of the settlement are not public. The attorney who represented the deceased man’s wife would only tell the AP the case was “settled prior to trial.”

What Now?

The New England Compounding Center recalled the infected steroid, methylprednisolone acetate, on Sept. 26 after disease-causing fungus was found in the company’s Framingham, Mass. factory, which a CNN report indicated shares a building with a garbage facility. The company has temporarily halted operations, and officials have ordered that none of their products be administered to patients for the time being.

But that’s too little, too late for the 170 people, at last count, who have been sickened across 11 states after receiving a shot of the steroid.

The Oshman Firm has a strong background handling cases involving deadly products and dangerous drugs. We’re ready to represent the families of those who were stricken or killed with meningitis due to the negligence of the New England Compounding Center and fight to ease their suffering as much as possible.

Contact us for a free consultation if you or someone you know has been affected by this contaminated product.


Ted Oshman has been with The Oshman Firm since 1988 serving clients for over 25 years. Learn more about Ted's background and featured practice areas here.

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