To date, the fungal meningitis outbreak has reached 424 infections and 31 deaths in 19 states, worrying Americans across the country that they could have been exposed to the over 17,000 tainted steroid drugs that were shipped from the New England Compounding Center (NECC.)
New evidence suggests that this entire outbreak may have been avoided had the director of the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Pharmacy paid attention to a complaint from Colorado's health officials. The interim director of the Massachusetts health department, Dr. Lauren Smith, has confirmed that the former director was fired for not investigating this complaint further.
In their complaint, Colorado health officials complained the NECC was behaving more like a pharmaceutical company than a compounding pharmacy. This complaint alleges they shipped medications across the country without a prescription in place. Currently, there are guidelines that pharmacies and compounding pharmacies need to follow in order to stay in operation. However, these compounding pharmacies operate largely outside of the jurisdiction of the FDA or other such government regulation.
What Happens if these Compounding Pharmacies Are Allowed to Operate Outside of the Law
If these compounding pharmacies are allowed to behave like pharmaceutical companies without the government regulation and checks in balances in place, the end result could be disasterous for consumers. This could lead to overmedication, medication replacement, and changes in drug potency that could be potentially disasterous.
Currently, the United States Congress is looking into available options for oversight and regulation of these compounding pharmacies to prevent future outbreaks such as the fungal meningitis outbreak.
To prevent future outbreaks, Congress needs to investigate and institute new rules including:
- Increased state transparency regarding compounding pharmacy rules
- Mandatory doctor and patient disclosures
- Mandatory reporting of adverse health conditions
- FDA authority over compounding pharmacies including the right of inspection
- Incentives for whistleblowers
What to Do if You Have Been Injured in the Fungal Meningitis Outbreak
If you have been injured in the fungal meningitis outbreak, seek immediate help for your symptoms before they progress and get worse. And if you have experienced a reoccurrence of symptoms, seek immediate help to readdress the problem. Do not skip treatments or stop treatments until a doctor medically clears you to do so. You may also want to contact a skilled product liability and personal injury attorney.