Third N.J. Patient Files Complaint Asserting Liability in Meningitis Outbreak

23 deaths among nearly 300 cases nationwide in tainted steroid injection outbreak.

Bridgeton, New Jersey (October 23, 2012) – A third New Jersey resident who received steroid injections to relieve chronic pain is asserting in a newly filed Complaint that a Massachusetts-based pharmacy is responsible for exposing the plaintiff to potentially deadly fungal meningitis. The Federal government is reporting 23 deaths to date among the approximately 14,000 patients across 16 states, including at least 600 in New Jersey, who received the contaminated injections that were administered from hospitals to community pain treatment centers beginning in May 2012.

Michael Barrett, Esq., of Saltz, Mongeluzzi & Bendesky, P.C., filed the lawsuit on behalf of C. M. Hannah, 34, who alleges that the New England Compounding Center (NECC) pharmacy produced the fungus-laced drug by failing to follow long established, standard safety practices for a compounding pharmacy. The law Firm has now filed three lawsuits on behalf of symptomatic patients and represents several more New Jersey residents who were exposed to contaminated injections.

According to the Complaint, the plaintiff received his injections on August 9, 2012, and again on August 30, 2012, at South Jersey Healthcare by a physician from Premier Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Associates of Southern New Jersey, LLC. The medical practice, physician, and the hospital are named as defendants in the action.
“Our client experiences constant pain and neck stiffness, as well as intense headaches associated with the tainted steroid injections,” said Mr. Barrett following the filing in Superior Court of New Jersey, Cumberland County. “Like everyone directly affected by the meningitis outbreak, he is living in fear of the present and his future.”

The steroid compound produced by NECC is methylprednisolone acetate, often used to treat chronic back or joint pain. It was tainted with a common fungus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The drug was widely prescribed for patients suffering back or joint pain, particularly in knees and shoulders. The rare but not contagious form of fungal meningitis (unlike bacterial meningitis) is inflammation of the lining surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

CDC has reported that infected patients have developed a variety of symptoms approximately one to four weeks following their injection. Symptoms include fever, new or worsening headache, nausea, and “new neurological deficit” [consistent with deep brain stroke]. CDC recalled the contaminated NECC batch on September 26, 2012.

According to published reports, the New England Compounding Center has previously been investigated for contaminated injections. In 2007, the company settled a lawsuit that claimed that an 83-year-old man died in 2004 after contracting fatal bacterial meningitis from an injection produced and prepared in its Framingham facility. The case was settled prior to going to trial.

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