One month into their investigation, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) have announced that they believe the recent fungal meningitis outbreak was caused by several lots of contaminated steroids, all produced and sold by the New England Compounding Center (NECC). In fact, federal investigators announced that they found the deadly fungus in at least 50 vials at the NECC. At last count, federal officials say that at least 14,000 patients across the country were exposed to tainted drugs.
But how do drugs get contaminated with fungus? While investigators have not yet released an official report, there are common ways that defective and dangerous drugs are created:
- Unclean manufacturing conditions. In some cases, the factory where the drug is produced is simply not up to code when it comes to cleanliness and sterility, from the production line to the packaging area.
- A failure to sterilize equipment. It is vital that all equipment and bottles are sterile—any dirty equipment can have catastrophic results.
- A failure to properly train staff. If those manufacturing the drug aren’t trained to properly keep the product sterile, they may contaminate the product.
- Tainted ingredients. If the products that go into making the drug are tainted to begin with—and the contamination isn’t pinpointed—the final product may be tainted as well.
- A lack of preservatives in the drug. Some drugs are made sterile through the inclusion of alcohol, but other drugs do not or cannot contain preservatives. These latter drugs must be made in a very sterile environment.
Why is it important to pinpoint how a drug was contaminated? Finding the source of contamination is key to preventing future issues and to helping patients understand how they were harmed by a drug that was supposed to help them. It is also key to finding out exactly who was responsible for the tainted drug so that they can answer to those they have harmed.
In this most recent case of tainted steroids, patients who contracted fungal meningitis from an epidural injection may be able to collect damages from the at-fault parties. To learn more about your potential case, contact the Texas product liability attorneys at Vujasinovic & Beckcom today.