Meningitis Outbreak Beginning to Draw Illinois Lawsuits

The first of nearly14,000 patients given potentially tainted injections of pain medicine has sued the maker of the treatment. Many experts say this may be the first of a wave of lawsuits following a deadly meningitis outbreak that has killed 14 people.

Meanwhile, a medical practice specializing in pain management received a shipment of the tainted medication. The company has notified about 200 Chicago-area patients who may have received injections of a steroid medication linked to an outbreak of the deadly form of meningitis. APAC Centers for Pain Management is the only provider in Illinois known to have received the recalled product, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Three of the company’s clinic sites gave injections of the drug for back pain, including two in Chicago and one in Westchester. The Illinois Department of Public Health has reported that there have been no cases of meningitis linked to the pain mediication in the state.

The first lawsuit was filed last week in a Minnesota federal courtby a woman who said she had been given a steroid injection for back pain. She said she has experienced meningitis-like symptoms and is awaiting test results.

The state with the most cases is Tennessee. At least 169 people have contracted meningitis, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The outbreak has turned into a major national health scandal. Several investigations have been launched. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut has called for a criminal investigation of the maker of the pain medicine, New England Compounding Center of Massachusetts. The compounding company has recalled the product, surrendered its operating license and has said it is cooperating with the investigations.

Compounders take drug ingredients and make specialized treatments for patients. Federal and state regulators also have come under criticism for allowing an obscure pharmaceuticals sector to grow rapidly without much federal oversight. The CDC said on Thursday it was working to contain the meningitis outbreak from medications that had been shipped to 23 states. Eleven of those states have reported cases of meningitis. There have been deaths in six states.

Most of the patients at risk had received epidural injections to alleviate back pain. Others received injections in joints such as a knee or ankle. The CDC said all people who might have received the injections in joints from the suspect product also should seek medical attention.

Meningitis is an infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include headache, fever and nausea, and it must be treated quickly to improve chances of survival.

The lawsuit is Barbe Puro v. New England Compounding Pharmacy Inc, U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota, No. 12-2605.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois pharmaceutical negligence lawsuits for over 36 years, serving those areas in and around Chicago, Cook County, and surrounding areas, including Alsip, Berwyn, Naperville, and Evanston.

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