Pharmaceutical

$100 million settlement for fungal meningitis victims expected soon

syringe $100 million settlement for fungal meningitis victims expected soonVictims of the deadly fungal meningitis outbreak linked to contaminated steroid shots could receive a share of a $100 million multidistrict litigation settlement if trustees with the now-bankrupt New England Compounding Center (NECC) and other parties complete a proposed deal.

A bankruptcy attorney for the compounding pharmacy responsible for manufacturing and distributing the tainted steroid shots said he has been working with a committee representing victims of the outbreak since the settlements-in-principle were announced in December. He told a Massachusetts federal judge that a completed deal was expected soon.

The agreement calls for a victims fund that would first have to be approved by the Massachusetts bankruptcy judge overseeing NECC’s Chapter 11 case. In some states, NECC must be declared insolvent before victims can pursue lawsuits against health care providers or medical facilities who received or administered the steroid shots.

More than 18,000 contaminated shots were distributed to medical facilities across 23 states between May and September 2012, exposing an estimated 14,000 people. The shots were injected into spines, necks or joints to treat back, neck or joint pain. At least 750 were sickened with fungal infections including fungal meningitis after receiving the shots, and 64 died.

As the outbreak began to unfold, investigators with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) narrowed their search to breached sterility practices at NECC that resulted in fungus-contaminated steroid shots. A recall was ordered in late September 2012 and two months later NECC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company faces hundreds of lawsuits from victims of the outbreak or their surviving family members.

Source: Law 360