EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSMENINGITIS OUTBREAK ISSUE
from Eyewitness News Online
Medical Editor Says Meningitis Outbreak May Spur Congressional Action
Reported by: Deborah Linz
Web Producer: Jeff Morris
Reported: Oct. 9, 2012 3:48 PM EDT
Updated: Oct. 11, 2012 10:41 AM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
The chief health and medical editor for ABC News said it's possible Congress will take action in the wake of this meningitis outbreak.
"It's concerning that a small compounding pharmacy in one state sent product around the entire country and is causing this to happen," Dr. Richard Besser said.
Due to the high demand of certain medications, pharmaceutical companies are outsourcing production to compounding pharmacies like the one in Massachusetts that manufactured the tainted steroid. While the FDA inspects pharmaceutical factories, it doesn't inspect small compounding pharmacies.
Besser said if the drugs are not made in a sterile environment, a deadly fungus can grow.
In West Virginia, it's suspected 221 people may have received contaminated steroid injections from a Parkersburg pain clinic. If patients got shots there in August or later, they need to be on high alert for meningitis-like symptoms.
Three of the suspected 24 cases of meningitis in Virginia are West Virginia residents who received the pain treatment in Virginia, The Associated Press reported.
The reported suspected cases in Virginia are among nearly 700 back pain patients who received steroid shots that may have been contaminated with a deadly fungus. Of the 24 suspected cases of meningitis in Virginia, one person has died.
Meanwhile, the recent meningitis outbreak has many people on edge, including those in West Virginia's capital city. Officials with the Kanawha County Health Department met Tuesday evening to discuss those concerns.
Tainted steroid shots at a Parkersburg clinic may have exposed some patients to the disease, however, it is believed to be an isolated problem.
"At this point, West Virginia has no confirmed cases, nor was that sold to any other county to any other clinics in West Virginia," Janet Briscoe, director of emergency preparation, said Tuesday.
People who received those tainted shots have been informed, and the incident is still under investigation. The number of people sickened by a deadly meningitis outbreak has now reached 119 cases, including 11 deaths.
On Tuesday, the clinic that received the drugs in West Virginia issued this statement:
“The Pars Pain Center has been notified by the CDC of a National Recall of steroid medication used in epidural injections. The medication in question appears to have caused meningitis infections in pain clinics around the United States.
“Some patients who received steroid injections at Pars Pain Center between Aug. 6, 2012, and Sept. 25, 2012, may have received recalled medication.
“We have been strictly following all CDC and FDA guidelines for this recall and are diligently working with the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health to ensure that patient notifications and safety are our top priority.
“As of today, there have been no confirmed cases of meningitis associated with our clinic.
“We have discontinued using the compounding pharmacy responsible for this recall and the vials in question have been submitted to the FDA for testing and evaluation.
“We will continue to provide updates as more information is made available from the CDC and FDA.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the patients and families affected by this terrible national tragedy.”
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