Pritzker Hageman attorneys filed a lawsuit today against Medical Advanced Pain Specialists (MAPS) on behalf of a 23-year-old Minnesota woman, one of the 10 Minnesota patients that contracted fungal meningitis injections of tainted steroids in the summer of 2012. The steroids were manufactured by New England Compounding Center (NECC). On September 26, 2012, NECC voluntarily recalled three lots of these steroids due to fungal contamination.
On May 14, 2012, our client went to MAPS Clinic in Maple Grove for leg pain treatment. MAPS physicians recommended lumbar injections to alleviate the pain. Thus, on July 31, 2012, MAPS doctors administered a lumbar injection of methylprednisolone acetate manufactured by NECC. Our client had a second injection of NECC methylprednisolone acetate at MAPS on August 10, 2012.
By September 2012, our client had contracted spinal fungal meningitis. She was hospitalized for over a week. Since then, she has been on continual anti-fungal medication, voriconazole, a strong antifungal therapy that has numerous side effects, including visual issues, nausea, liver damage and cancer (squamous cell carcinoma). In addition, she had to have a medical device needed to treat another medical condition removed because of fear of further infection. Her prior medical condition caused chronic, debilitating pain, and the most effective treatment for her condition may no longer be available for her.
On September 26, 2012, NECC voluntarily recalled three lots of preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate due to possible contamination with fungus. Six clinics in Minnesota received some of the recalled NECC methylprednisolone steroid: MAPS pain clinics in Edina, Fridley, Maple Grove and Shakopee; and the Minnesota Surgery Center in Edina and Maple Grove.
On October 6, 2012, NECC expanded the recall to include all products in circulation that were distributed from its facility in Framingham, Massachusetts. On or about October 11, 2012, our client received notice from MAPS that she was injected with a recalled product that was potentially contaminated by NECC, according to the lawsuit.
At this same time, the CDC reported that other patients who had received NECC methylprednisolone had developed fungal meningitis. Although the investigation is ongoing, to date there are 377 CDC-confirmed cases of fungal meningitis in 20 states. There are 10 cases of fungal meningitis and 2 cases of osteomyelitis, a fungal infection in the bone. In its most recent counts, the CDC has confirmed 722 total cases of NECC drug-related illness. Of those, 50 people have died, including one in Minnesota.
NECC was licensed as a compounding pharmacy in Minnesota. As such, it was required under Minnesota statutes to sell individually compounded pharmaceuticals for specific patients, by prescription. The license did not allow the company to sell pharmaceuticals in bulk. In December 2012, NECC filed for federal bankruptcy protection in Massachusetts.
This meningitis lawsuit alleges that, in violation of state law, MAPS received methylprednisolone acetate in bulk from NECC. The lawsuit also alleges that the NECC methylprednisolone administered to our client on July 31 and/or August 10, 2012, was contaminated with the fungus Exserohilum rostratum or Aspergillus fumigatus, potentially deadly pathogens that can cause illness and death if they are able to enter into the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord known as the cerebral spinal fluid (“CSF”).
“The lawsuit filed today seeks fair compensation for our client from MAPS,” said Fred Pritzker, lead attorney for this case. “We allege that these businesses should be held accountable for purchasing drugs illegally. MAPS cannot turn a blind eye to Minnesota law which mandates that it purchase in bulk only from a licensed supplier. Had MAPS abided by this law, many Minnesotans would not have been sickened.”