Press-Republican

October 11, 2012

Local facilities didn't use medicine targeted as source of meningitis outbreak

By JEFF MEYERS
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — Regional health-care facilities have not used the pain medication targeted in the recent meningitis outbreak across the nation.

As of Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control had confirmed 111 cases of meningitis in 10 states, including 11 total deaths in Tennessee, Virginia, Michigan and Maryland.

The CDC has linked those confirmed cases to an injectable steroid manufactured by New England Manufacturing Compound, located in Framingham, Mass.

“Adirondack Medical Center does not use and has never distributed the injectable steroid currently linked to the meningitis outbreak being reported in the national media,” said AMC spokesperson Joe Riccio in a press release issued by the Saranac Lake hospital.

“AMC has never purchased nor distributed any products from this drug maker.”

NOT SUBJECT TO FDA

Michael Harvey, manager of the CVPH Pharmacy in Plattsburgh also noted that the Medical Center has not purchased any injectable medications from New England Manufacturing.

“We do not buy injectables from anyone that uses compounds from raw materials as a matter of policy,” said Thom Gosrich, director of the CVPH Pharmacy.

New England Manufacturing Compound is referred to as a “specialty pharmacy” that combines medications to meet a client’s needs.

“The problem with specialty pharmacies is that they are not subject to FDA regulations,” said Dr. Thierry Bonnabesse, founder of Champlain Spine and Pain Management on Tom Miller Road in Plattsburgh. “We buy exclusively from the manufacturer and have not purchased any products from this company.”

Elizabethtown Community Hospital has not bought products from the Framingham facility either, said spokesperson Jane Hooper.

 “The hospital does not perform epidural injections,” said Grant Martin, ECH director of pharmacy, “and the compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts that has been identified as the source is not the hospital’s supplier of medications.”

LOCAL NOT LIKELY

New England Manufacturing typically distributes medicines to pain-management centers as opposed to hospitals, Martin noted.

“If there is a patient that travels downstate, for example, to a pain-management center, it’s possible that there could be exposure,” he said. “But most likely not from our region’s hospitals.”

Alice Hyde Medical Center in Malone has not purchased any products from New England Manufacturing, and none of its products have been used in the facility, said Kurt Trautmann, chief pharmacist there.

“AHMC is dedicated to maintaining a quality improvement system that ensures the safety, health and comfort of our patients,” said Alice Hyde President Douglas F. Divello. “The safety of all our patients and Nursing Home residents is our foremost concern, and the Pharmacy Department monitors and responds to all drug warnings and recalls that may impact the care we deliver.”

GENERIC BRAND

According to CDC records, three health-care facilities in New York received a batch of the injectable steroids that have been recalled by the manufacturer, in Mineola, Mt. Vernon and Rochester.

No health-care facilities in Vermont received shipments from the infected batch.

The medication in question is called methylprednisolone acetate. The brand name, produced by Pfizer, is called Depo Medrol, but the product that was recalled is a generic brand and is not produced by Pfizer.

“Lately, the generic brands (manufactured by FDA-approved manufacturers) have not been available, and that could be why some have turned to these compounding pharmacies,” Gosrich said. “We (at CVPH) purchase injectable medications only from manufacturers that are regulated by the FDA. That is the most important safety measure we have.”

NOT ALL ILL

Fungal meningitis is not contagious; it does not spread from person to person.

Symptoms include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, a sensitivity to light and altered mental status.

CDC is requesting that clinicians who have administered medications from three lots of recalled injectable steroids should contact those patients.

Not all those who received the medication will become sick, but CDC is recommending that patients seek medical care should any of the symptoms occur.

Email Jeff Meyers: jmeyers@pressrepublican.com

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ON THE WEB

For more information on the national outbreak, go to www.cdc.gov/hai/outbreaks/meningitis.html.