Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Newly Filed Meningitis Lawsuits Shed Light on Tragic Mistakes
Michigan, Hardest Hit by Outbreak, Sees Increase in Patient Court Actions
SOUTHFIELD, MI – David Snow developed a severe hip joint infection due to injections of
contaminated steroids meant to relieve persistent back pain. Medford Bar received three steroid
injections for back pain and then developed a severe spinal disk infection which caused endocarditis
and later, a stroke. Another steroid injection patient contracted meningitis and, despite aggressive
anti-fungal therapy, died. A fourth steroid injection patient acquired a severe spinal infection,
requiring reconstruction of the spinal canal.
Now all four Michigan victims will be seeking redress in the courts.
“The catastrophic injuries suffered by these individuals are the direct consequence of corporate greed
and inadequate governmental oversight,” says attorney Robert Sickels of the law firm Sommers
Schwartz, P.C. Sickels along with fellow attorneys Matthew Curtis,Richard Groffsky, and Jason
Thompson represent all four victims.
Michigan has experienced the most number of incidents in the outbreak. According to the Centers
for Disease Control, 154 of the 461 cases – which include eight fatalities and 10 peripheral joint
infections – involve Michigan residents, and the number could increase.
While the focus of attention has been on the New England Compounding Center in Framingham,
Massachusetts, where the steroids were mixed and packaged into individual vials for injection,
Sickels is investigating whether other parties, such as the pain clinics where the injections are
performed, may also share some of the blame for the outbreak. “The clinics and doctors who use
these products have a duty to their patients to purchase their medicines from only those facilities that are known to utilize the rigorous sterile technique in the production of compounds that are being
injected into tissues and nerve roots surrounding the spine” according to Sickels.
Since the outbreak was first reported, FDA inspectors have found non-sterile conditions at the NECC
facility in Framingham and have ordered the recall of all products produced by the company.
Although regulations required NECC to maintain “clean rooms” where the preparations were to be
mixed, the rooms inspected were less that “clean” with mold growing in some of the rooms.
NECC was licensed to operate as a pharmacy, meaning that it could create alternative mixtures or
“compounds” of existing medications. Unlike drug manufactures that face strict regulations but are
able to mass produce for the open market, compounding pharmacies like NECC are only allowed to
dispense medications in response to specific requests for specific patients from health care providers.
“There is mounting evidence that NECC actually sold steroid vials in bulk to pain clinics eager to
obtain cut-rate prices,” Sickels said.
“It would not be surprising if many more cases of meningitis and other infections related to NECC
products develop over the next several weeks. Organisms introduced into the body may lay dormant
for a period of time and then suddenly spring into a life threatening disease” Sickels explained.
Sommers Schwartz, P.C., a law firm located in Southfield, Michigan,represents individuals in
Michigan and across the country who have been harmed as a result of medical errors, defective
products, loss of employment, and other forms of negligence or intentional injury, as well as
businesses involved in complex litigation matters that jeopardize their existence. Additional
information about Sommers Schwartz can be found on its website: www.sommerspc.com.