50 Federal Lawsuits Have Been Filed Against NECCIt was recently announced that approximately 50 federal lawsuits have been filed against the New England Compounding Center, the compounding pharmacy that fabricated and distributed the tainted steroids. The lawsuits have been filed in nine states.
The fungal meningitis outbreak was a medical catastrophe. The sickness and death that resulted from the New England compounding pharmacy has caused the FDA to look at compounding pharmacy practices very closely, and discover that other facilities, including Ameridose, distributed tainted medications to hospitals and clinics, although no resulting sicknesses have been reported.
NECC responsible for 590 PatientsThe lawsuits charge that the New England Compounding Center (NECC), through its negligence, caused the death and/or illness of 590 patients. The suits seek millions of dollars in damages for wrongful death, pain and suffering, emotional distress and lost wages.
NECC Surrenders Pharmacy LicenseSince the outbreak, NECC has surrendered its pharmacy licenses, recalled all products, laid off all employees. Although NECC had liability insurance, it is uncertain if the policies would cover damages of this magnitude. Because it is very likely that NECC will not have adequate funding to support the potential compensation, several of the lawsuits have included additional defendants, including the marketing firm Medical Sales Management, the sister company Ameridose, and NECC co-founders Barry Cadden and Greg Conigliaro.
It is speculated that there might be numerous lawsuits to follow, and physicians, nurses, hospitals, medical clinics and those who physically handled the drug vials might be sued. Since the contamination was so severe that it could be seen with the naked eye, anyone who was associated with the medical centers that administered the drugs could be liable for not reporting that the contents of the vials were clearly tainted.
Full Scope of Damage Could Take YearsThe discovery phase—the gathering and review of evidence and depositions—could take years. Moreover, the full scope of the medical emergency might not be fully appreciated; more potential victims could yet be discovered. It was reported recently that several patients in states that have not yet recorded incidences of fungal meningitis have developed severe meningitis-like symptoms. However, these cases have not been diagnosed because doctors had not been able to find traces of fungus in the patients’ spinal fluid, although at least one of the patient’s symptoms caused sufficient alarm to necessitate antifungal medications to be prescribed.
The debilitating physical symptoms of fungal meningitis would legitimately render the patient unable to work. A patient infected with fungal meningitis would suffer from persistent headaches, nausea, backaches, blurred vision, dizziness and speech troubles. One diagnosed, a patient would have to be under constant medical supervision while the appropriate medications were administered, and recovery time can take weeks.