Compounding Pharmacy Blames Cleaning Company For Meningitis Outbreak

The fungal meningitis outbreak that has claimed the lives of more than three dozen individuals and has sickened hundreds more was the result of contaminated injection sproduced at the New England Compounding Pharmacy. Recently, the NECC has demanded that the company it paid to provide once-a-month cleaning services indemnify it for all the damage caused in the meningitis outbreak. That company, UniFirst Corp., responded by saying the “claims are without merit.” Whether UniFirst Corp. can be held responsible may have financial implications for injured patients if the NECC does not have sufficient funds to compensate all the victims, as seems likely.

The Food and Drug Administration’s report following an investigation of the NECC facility where the injections were produced reported greenish black foreign matter on steroid injections. FDA investigators also found bacterial or mold overgrowths in several “clean rooms.” A spokesperson for UniFirst stated that the company cleaned portions of NECC clean rooms “to NECC’s specifications and using NECC’s cleansing solutions.”

The number of meningitis cases continues to rise. The NECC recalled more than 17,000 vials of tainted steroid injections and thousands of patients received the shots before the problem was discovered. The compounding pharmacy was shut down on October 6. Even if the cleaning company is not made to indemnify the NECC, it is possible that the victims of these tainted injections may be able to obtain compensation from other sources. Doctors and facilities that played a role in administering these injections to patients may also be found liable to help victims recover proper compensation for the harm done to them.

Source: ABC News, “Meningitis Outbreak: NECC Blames Cleaners,” by Sydney Lupkin, 4 January 2013