Meningitis Outbreak and the Compound Pharmacy

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




8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. maggiemyklebust
    Oct 07, 2012 @ 11:05:03

    Very informative. Thanks!


  2. Katie
    Oct 07, 2012 @ 12:44:16

    Safety first! Great post. We were seeing someone a couple of months ago who was having issues with his back. He came in one morning and was not even close to acting his normal self. We did not see him that day because of his severe head pain, shaking and fever. We asked him to go to his doctor. I offered him a ride because I was worried about him driving. He was in the ICU that night and last we heard, he was home resting and they blamed his headache on the spinal tap they did in the ER because if his complaint of a headache. As soon as I heard about the outbreak I checked his file…there was no mention of an injection but I still wonder. Truly a scary situation.


    • thehealthywarrior
      Oct 07, 2012 @ 20:56:03

      Hi Katie. Thanks for coming by. Yeah, that is a scarey situation indeed. I’m glad your friend recieved the right medical attention. Another scarey thing is we really don’t know exactly where our drugs are coming from. I thought I did, but now I have strong concerns


  3. on thehomefrontandbeyond
    Oct 08, 2012 @ 09:06:28

    this is a bit scary and I am wondering if there are compound pharmacies in Canada- I am not sure I know the difference


    • thehealthywarrior
      Oct 08, 2012 @ 12:02:19

      Hi Louann. Thanks for the visit today. I agree it is a bit scarey, but I don’t know anything about the pharmacies in Canada obviously since I don’t live there. I suppose you can do some independent investigation and ask around. Even that might not make a difference because as a patient, it is difficult to know where the drugs are coming from.


  4. souldipper
    Oct 11, 2012 @ 04:16:15

    Yike, Carol! Good to be aware this could happen…

    Yes, we do have some compound pharmacies in Canada, Onthehomefront. They are the ones who kindly mix up bioidenticals for people with wonky hormones due to menopause or thyroid problems. They’re wonderful to have, but I’m not sure of the regulations they have to follow in Canada. The one I use gives me the same prescription as the regular pharmacy, but charges less for dispensing.


    • thehealthywarrior
      Oct 11, 2012 @ 17:14:07

      Hi Amy. If you guys have these compound pharmacies in Canada, then more than likely, they are spread out in many other places around the world. I think they are a good thing to have also, but I prefer that they would be regulated. Also. I would would like to know exactly where the medication my doctor gives me in his office comes from.


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