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Infections caused by contaminated steroid shots continue to baffle experts

It has been two months since news of a deadly multistate fungal infection outbreak caused by steroid shots made by a compounding pharmacy first made headlines. Since then, 541 people have been infected and 36 people have died. Investigators say that while the death toll may be holding steady, it is hard to say when the 14,000 people exposed to the contaminated shots can consider themselves in the clear. All patients who have been infected received injections of a preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate (MPA) from three lots manufactured by New England Compounding Center, or NECC. The shots are commonly injected into ... Read More

Alabama man says he suffered fungal infection from other meds made by NECC

Bret Moody says he developed fungal meningitis after receiving medication from the compounding pharmacy at the center of the deadly multi-state fungal meningitis outbreak, however health officials are not listing him among the 510 people infected by contaminated meds. Moody, who suffers from leukemia, says he was administered the drugs this summer during a 45-day stay at Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital in Florence, Ala. – a state that did not receive the contaminated steroid shots that sickened so many people. Alabama, however, is one of several states that received other medications made by the same pharmacy. All medications made by ... Read More

CDC warns of new fungal infections related to contaminated steroid shots

Health departments across the country are once again contacting people who received steroid shots from contaminated lots that triggered a deadly multi-state fungal meningitis outbreak. This time they are asking patients to be on the lookout for signs of infection where they received the injections, or other unusual symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that even patients who have dodged fungal infections in their joints, brains or spinal cords are still at risk of fungal infections. Patients who received the steroid shots are being asked to seek medical attention immediately if they experience any increased pain ... Read More

GSK to pay an additional $90 million in Avandia heart attack claims

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), makers of the type 2 diabetes drug Avandia, agreed to pay $90 million to settle claims by 37 states and the District of Columbia that the drug company illegally promoted the medication and misled consumers about whether the blockbuster prescription medication caused deadly heart attacks and strokes in order to boost sales. The settlement is yet another financial blow to GSK, which has already paid more than $3 billion to resolve government investigations into questionable marketing of Avandia and other drugs. One of the charges involved the company’s failure to report safety data about Avandia. Avandia is in ... Read More

Insects, flying birds found during inspection at Ameridose compounding pharmacy

Multiple insects and brownish gunk on or near areas used to prepare sterile drugs, and flying birds in an area where  sterile products are stored were found during a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspection of Ameridose, a compounding pharmacy that shares ownership with the company tied to a deadly multistate fungal meningitis outbreak. The sterility problems were outlined in a report released this week by the FDA. The inspection came about after contaminated steroid shots made by a New England Compounding Center (NECC) were identified as the source of the fungal meningitis outbreak. FDA health inspectors expanded their investigation ... Read More

Chrysler recalls nearly 1 million Jeep Grand Cherokees, Jeep Liberties

Chrysler is recalling nearly a million of its Jeep vehicles worldwide because the airbags may deploy automatically while the vehicles are in operation. The recall affects 2002 to 2004 model year Jeep Grand Cherokees and Jeep Liberties, and involves nearly 750,000 vehicles in the United States. The problem involves the front and side airbags, which can go off at any moment, as well as the sudden tightening of seatbelts. The airbag deployments can increase the risk of injury and the chances of a crash, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Chrysler says there have been no reports ... Read More

Massachusetts pharmacy board chairman fired in wake of multistate fungal meningitis outbreak

The director of the Massachusetts pharmacy board has been relieved of his duties for ignoring a complaint that New England Compounding Center (NECC), the specialty pharmacy at the center of the deadly multistate fungal meningitis outbreak, was violating its license by shipping drugs in bulk across state lines. The complaint was filed by the Colorado pharmacy board in July, a month before health officials linked cases of rare fungal meningitis to three batches of contaminated steroid shots made by NECC. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees drug companies and clears drug ingredients they make on a case-by-case basis. Compounding ... Read More

Congressional hearings on fungal meningitis outbreak to begin soon

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg will appear before lawmakers later this month to testify at the first congressional hearings on the deadly multistate fungal meningitis outbreak linked to contaminated steroid shots made by a compounding pharmacy. The hearings will examine how the outbreak could have been prevented. FDA officials have already said that new laws may be needed to clarify the federal government’s role in overseeing these specialty pharmacies. Compounding pharmacies use drug ingredients that have been approved by the FDA to custom-mix drugs that meet doctors’ special instructions. Unlike drug companies, compounding pharmacies are not ... Read More

Contaminated steroid shots now causing new health problem in patients

The contaminated steroid shots from a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy blamed in the deadly multistate fungal meningitis outbreak are now causing a new health problem. Some of the patients who have received the tainted shots have developed an infection known as an epidural abscess near the spine where the drug was injected. The abscesses are localized infections, unlike meningitis, which is an inflammation of the membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord. However, many patients who developed the abscesses have had to be hospitalized and some had to undergo surgery. If left untreated, epidural abscesses could progress to meningitis. Some patients ... Read More

Pharmacy closing creates greater shortages of life-saving drugs

The shutdown of Ameridose pharmacy and the recall of all its products may create greater shortages of certain life-saving drugs, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned. The pharmacy closed its doors earlier this week after health inspectors raised concerns about the sterile environment in which the drugs were mixed. Ameridose’s product recalls and the exacerbated drug shortages are part of the fallout of the deadly multistate fungal meningitis outbreak linked to contaminated steroid shots manufactured by Massachusetts compounding pharmacy, New England Compounding Center. The FDA says it has identified six Ameridose products on the agency’s critical shortage list that were ... Read More