Does NMC Use The Medication Associated With Recent Meningitis Deaths?
Oct 9, 2012 12:00 am| Permalink
Yes, but NOT the medication from the manufacturer in question: methylprednisolone acetate, an epidural steroid used in the treatment of pain, prepared by New England Compounding Company out of Framingham, Massachusetts. That medication, however, is common and NMC does prescribe it, but we purchase ours from a different manufacturer, Pfizer. To date, the concerns have been limited exclusively to that one manufacturer.
You may have seen national news stories originating out of Tennessee about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s multi-state investigation into deaths resulting from fungal meningitis that is believed to be linked to a potentially contaminated batch of methylprednisolone acetate. Their investigation is ongoing, but their interim data shows that all of the infected patients received injection of the potentially tainted steroid tracing back to potentially three lots of the medication from the same manufacturer. The compounding center in question has ceased all production and initiated recall of all methylprednisolone acetate and other related drug products.
Patsy Kelso PhD, State Epidemiologist for Infectious Disease at the Vermont Department of Health issued a health advisory relating to this matter on October 5. “Although all cases detected to date occurred after injections with products from these three lots, out of an abundance of caution, CDC and FDA recommend that healthcare professionals cease use of any product produced by the New England Compounding Center until further information is available,” said Dr. Kelso in the advisory. She points out that “Several Vermont healthcare facilities have received non-recalled products produced by the New England Compounding Center and all of these products have been sequestered.” As we share this sense of needing to take “an abundance of caution” NMC is in full compliance with that recommendation.
For those wishing to learn more, the CDC website (www.cdc.gov/meningitis/fungal.html) has extensive information about Meningitis, which is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. They describe fungal meningitis as “rare and usually the result of spread of a fungus through blood to the spinal cord” and point out that “fungal meningitis is not contagious, which means it is not transmitted from person to person.” The signs and symptoms of fungal meningitis are listed as: “fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light, and altered mental status.” Remember, fungal meningitis is rare and these symptoms may be signs of other illness. Naturally, if you are ill with symptoms such as these, you should speak to your primary care provider. It is truly not likely at all that it is fungal meningitis, but your provider can still help you recover from what is causing those symptoms.
That measured approach is key in a situation such as this. It is best to be informed, but not alarmed. Being alarmed can lead to misinformation, confusion, and panic. Being informed helps you properly assess the situation, determine your risks, and take the right steps. We are fortunate to have strong partners in our community like the Vermont Department of Health and our primary care providers to assist in that effort. The Vermont Department of Health’s website (healthvermont.gov) is a great source of information as is the CDC’s website. They provide credible, timely reports that can help you better understand issues and situations raising health questions.
This also serves as a good reminder about how important it is to have good communication with your healthcare providers. “Discharge instructions” often tell patients what they should look for in their health following treatment. Pay attention to those. Follow up if you have questions or concerns. Please remember that you are not a bother or wasting anyone’s time to call and ask questions; this is what you should do to actively participate in your care.
- Jill Berry Bowen, NMC CEO