Meningitis Outbreak and the Compound Pharmacy
I’m going to do something that I don’t normally do and that is to use the word assume. I will assume that most of you have heard of the recent fungal meningitis outbreak. For those of you who haven’t, let me get you up to speed. For those who have heard of it, please bare with me for a moment because I have something important to add.
The outbreak of fungal meningitis has spread over multiple states, and includes 47 illnesses and 5 deaths. The fungal meningitis has been linked back to clinics across the nation that administered steroid shots for severe back pain. The injection was a preservative free steroid that was manufactured by the New England Compounding Company. It was reported that there was mole found in one of the unopened packages. All of this havoc has forced the company to close. There are FDA approved versions of the drug by the name of Depo-medrol, and is reported to be in good supply.
Meningitis is the inflammation of the lining of the brain and the spinal cord. The symptoms of fungal meningitis may be mild in the beginning but will advance to being more severe. Once a person is infected, it can take up to a month before symptoms will appear. Fungal meningitis is not contagious, unlike the other forms of meningitis. Symptoms include severe headache, dizziness, neck stiffness, and stroke like symptoms such as visual and speech difficulty along with increased weakness and confusion. It is treated with a high dose of antifungal IV medication, which will usually require hospitalization.
As stated earlier, the steroid injection that is the cause of the outbreak came from a compound pharmacy. Compound companies mix their own drugs, creams and other medications. Compound pharmacies are not regulated like the other drug manufacturing companies are. That means the compound pharmacies’ products are not subject to the Federal Drug Administration’s approval. This is because a compound pharmacy’s drug is suppose to stay within the state they are developed in, and is not intended to be used nationally. Therefore, they are not subject to federal regulations.
Personally, I’d like to know that a drug I am being given by a physician is safe, and has been approved by the FDA. I know that there are side effects to practically every drug there is, but I will feel a lot safer knowing that my drug has been approved by the FDA, and chances for contamination are null. .
I understand that the FDA wants to regulate the compound pharmacies, but they have been getting a lot of resistance from them. In my research for this post, I discovered that compound pharmacies have been the blame for other outbreaks in recent history due to contaminated medicines. Many of them were serious, including some that were deadly. In Washington D.C. 2 people became blind in the year 2005 as a result of using a contaminated drug from a compound pharmacy. 3 deaths occurred in Virginia in 2006, and another 3 deaths occurred in 2007 in the state of Oregon. Also, there were 21 polo horses that died in 2009. Earlier this year, 33 people in several states across the nation developed fungal eye infections.
As I said, I realize that there are possible side effects to all medications. However, I’d rather take my chances with the side effects and from a drug produced by a regular drug manufacturing company. And I’d avoid the drugs from a compound pharmacy that has a much higher probability of being contaminated, if I can. However, most of us would have no way of knowing where our drugs came from. Which would you prefer?
Healthy trails to you