A class-action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of Michigan residents sickened by tainted steroid injections that are believed responsible for a fungal meningitis outbreak that has led to at least three deaths in the state.
The federal lawsuit against the Massachusetts pharmaceutical company was filed on behalf of Brenda Bansale of Howell, who was diagnosed with fungal meningitis after being injected with the contaminated steroid. The lawsuit is open to any Michigan resident who received or was exposed to injections of the contaminated drug.
Brenda Bansale's son, Brandon Bansale, 26, of Fowlerville said his mother received the shot for back pain and later developed a severe headache.
"It was pretty scary, that's for sure," Brandon Bansale said. "You hear, especially lately, (about) the deaths. It was definitely playing in the back of my mind, hearing all the stories of the related deaths."
Brandon Bansale said his mother's health appears to be improving.
"She does seem to be doing a little better," he said. "She's more alert."
The Michigan lawsuit appears appears to be the second class action filed over the tainted drugs within the past week.
According to CBS News, the first lawsuit against the Framingham, Mass.-based New England Compounding Center was filed Thursday in a Minnesota federal court by Barbe Puro, of Savage, Minn. Puro received contaminated steroid injections linked to the nationwide meningitis outbreak while being treated for pain in her neck. Puro has received medical treatment after the injections, but her health status is uncertain.
The tainted injections have been tracked to 17,000 vials of preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate from the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass. The company has issued a voluntary recall of all products produced at its Framingham center.
The Michigan Department of Community Health has contacted 1,900 people who were given the suspect injections at four Michigan clinics including the Michigan Pain Specialists in Brighton, where Bansale was treated. Michigan Pain Specialists said it treated about 875 people with the now-recalled product between Aug. 7 and Oct. 2.
Patients were treated at the Southeast Michigan Surgical Hospital in Warren; the Michigan Neurosurgical Institute in Grand Blanc, and the Neuromuscular and Rehabilitation Associates of Northern Michigan in Traverse City.
As of Friday, Michigan has 41 reported cases of illnesses linked to the steroid, according to the Michigan Department of Community Health.
Three deaths have been reported in Michigan: Lilian Cary, 67, of Howell and two others who have not been identified -- a 56-year-old Genesee County woman and a 78-year-old Washtenaw County woman.
Nationally, 15 people have died, and 214 have been sickened in 15 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The infection is not transmitted from person to person.
The lawsuit points out the New England Compounding Center is licensed only to fill small, specialty prescriptions for patients in Michigan, but has been selling large quantities of medications to hospitals and clinics, the complaint charges.
Drugs from compounding centers don't need approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration because such facilities originally developed only small amounts of drugs for individuals who, for example, are allergic to a substance used in a regulated drug. But in recent years, many compounding centers increased their output far beyond the original expectations, producing mass quantities of cheaper, generic drugs.
The Department of Community Health is urging anyone who received the injections at one of those clinics between May and October to seek immediate treatment if they show any of the symptoms of meningitis, including headache, fever, light sensitivity, a stiff neck and/or a weakness or numbness.
Contact Peggy Walsh-Sarnecki: 586-826-7278 or firstname.lastname@example.org ___
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