CBS News’ “60 Minutes” aired an in depth report about the conditions at the New England Compounding Center (NECC) and the fungal meningitis outbreak that has killed 48 people and sickened hundreds across the nation. Scott Pelley of “60 Minutes” interviewed former employees of the NECC compounding facility as well as the current FDA Commissioner, Dr. Margaret Hamburg.
This interview offered the first public look inside the compounding pharmacy and showed the unsanitary conditions that were present as well as some of the contaminated steroid injection vials. Dr. Hamburg explained to “60 Minutes” that the FDA does not have regulatory oversight for compounding pharmacies like the one run by NECC. Instead, the State Board of Pharmacy is responsible for conducting regular audits of drug production and business practices. In light of the devastating effects that this outbreak has had on the nation, Dr. Hamburg has asked Congress to place regulatory authority for compounding pharmacies into the hands of the FDA. This would allow the agency to develop a consistent protocol to be followed across all 50 states to help ensure patient safety.
One key difference between a compounding pharmacy, like NECC, and a drug manufacturer is that a compounding pharmacy must have a prescription for a specific patient before it can make a drug. “60 Minutes” spoke with a former salesman from the NECC who stated many hospitals and clinics were placing fraudulent prescription orders. He cited prescriptions for patient names such as ‘Bart Simpson’, ‘Homer Simpson’, and ‘Jane Doe’ were frequently presented by clinics and hospitals that ordered the drugs.
There are 48 fatalities associated with the contaminated vials of methylprednisolone acetate, manufactured and distributed by the NECC. Patients who tested positive for fungal meningitis are still being treated with antifungal medications. Many patients have been hospitalized numerous times and told “60 Minutes” about the painful treatments necessary to combat their infections.
Patients have filed lawsuits against the NECC and its owners for their injuries associated with the contaminated steroid injections that were manufactured by the compounding pharmacy. If you or someone you care about received a contaminated steroid injection from the NECC, contact us. Our personal injury attorneys have litigated numerous claims against drug manufacturers and can advise you of your legal rights and options.