Fungal Meningitis Outbreak
Audience: Pharmacists, Risk Managers, Pain Medicine
[UPDATE 11-01-2012] Laboratory results from samples of two additional recalled NECC products – preservative free betamethasone and cardioplegia solution - have tested positive for bacterial contamination. FDA and CDC laboratories have identified bacteria present in three separate lots (batches) of NECC-supplied preservative-free betamethasone, with each lot producing different culture results, and in a single lot of NECC cardioplegia solution. These results and the finding of fungal contamination of MPA reinforce the FDA’s concern about the lack of sterility in products produced at NECC’s compounding facility and serve to underscore that hospitals, clinics, and health care providers should not use any NECC-supplied products.
[UPDATE 10/24/2012] The updated list of customers (consignees) who were shipped product on or after May 21, 2012 from the New England Compounding Center’s (NECC) Framingham, MA facility is now posted at the FDA website. The technical problems with the previous list have been corrected.
You can obtain information about the outbreak by calling the FDA’s Division of Drug Information line at 855-543-DRUG (3784) or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
FDA provides NECC Customer List
[UPDATE 10/22/2012] FDA is making available two lists of customers (consignees) who received products that were shipped on or after May 21, 2012 from New England Compounding Center’s Framingham, MA facility. The first list includes customer names and addresses, organized by state. The second list contains the same basic information as the first list, but is organized alphabetically by customer name and also includes the specific products shipped, the quantities of product shipped, and the shipping date. The lists were prepared based on information provided by NECC, and FDA cannot vouch for the completeness or accuracy of the lists. Products shipped by NECC may be missing from the list and facility information may be incomplete. Nevertheless, this is the best information we have available, at this time, to help inform facilities and healthcare providers of NECC products shipped to their facilities since May 21, 2012.
FDA is reiterating and updating its previous recommendation that follow-up with patients be done when the following three conditions are met:
- The medication was an injectable product purchased from or produced by NECC, including an ophthalmic drug that is injectable or used in conjunction with eye surgery, or a cardioplegic solution,
- The medication was shipped by NECC on or after May 21, 2012, and
- The medication was administered to patients on or after May 21, 2012.
Since the May 21, 2012 date is the date the first of three lots of methylprednisolone acetate implicated in the current outbreak was produced, products produced and shipped by NECC on or after May 21, 2012 are believed at this time to be of greatest risk of contamination. Now that we have shipping information available, we are updating FDA’s recommendation to health care providers so that they can focus their attention on following up with the patients who are believed to be at greatest risk of receiving a contaminated product.
FDA Statement on Fungal Meningitis Outbreak: Additional Patient Notification Advised
[UPDATE 10/18/2012] CDC and FDA have confirmed the presence of a fungus known as Exserohilum rostratum in unopened medication vials of preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate (80mg/ml) from one of the three implicated lots from NECC (Lot #08102012@51, BUD 2/6/2013). The laboratory confirmation further links steroid injections from these lots from NECC to the multistate outbreak of fungal meningitis and joint infections. Testing on the other two implicated lots of methylprednisolone acetate and other NECC injectables continues.
CDC and state health departments estimate that approximately 14,000 patients may have received injections with medication from three implicated lots of methylprednisolone and nearly 97% of these patients have been contacted for further follow-up.
There is now available a Patient Notification Letter on the FDA "Update on Fungal Meningitis" webpage under the "Related Information" section. This letter template is for healthcare professionals notifying patients administered a drug produced by the New England Compounding Center (NECC) that has been recalled.
[UPDATE 10/16/2012] On 10/15/12 the health care facility notified CDC that the initial report of two transplant patients has been revised to one patient who received cardioplegia solution from NECC. The 10/15/12 statement has been revised to reflect this information.
ISSUE: As a result of the ongoing investigation of New England Compounding Center (NECC), a patient with possible meningitis potentially associated with epidural injection of an additional NECC product, triamcinolone acetonide, has been identified through active surveillance and reported to FDA. Triamcinolone acetonide is a type of steroid injectable product made by NECC. The cases of meningitis identified to date have been associated with methylprednisolone acetate, another similar steroid injectable product.
In addition, two transplant patients with Aspergillus fumigatus infection who were administered NECC cardioplegic solution during surgery have been reported. Investigation of these patients is ongoing; and there may be other explanations for their Aspergillus infection. Cardioplegic solution is used to induce cardiac muscle paralysis during open heart surgery to prevent injury to the heart.
BACKGROUND: On October 4, the FDA advised providers to not use any NECC products. On October 6, NECC announced a recall of all its products. See the complete list of all products subject to this recall. The FDA had previously issued guidance for medical professionals that all products distributed by NECC should be retained, secured, and withheld from use.
RECOMMENDATION: FDA advises healthcare professionals that if you administered an NECC injectable product to a patient after May 21, 2012, including an ophthalmic drug that is injectable or used in conjunction with eye surgery or a cardioplegic solution, you follow-up with that patient. Healthcare professionals and medical care organizations should inform patients who received the NECC products noted above of the symptoms of possible infection and instruct patients to contact their healthcare provider immediately if they experience any of these symptoms.
FDA advises healthcare professionals and patients to report adverse events or side effects related to the use of these products to the FDA's MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program:
- Complete and submit the report Online: www.fda.gov/MedWatch/report.htm
- Download form or call 1-800-332-1088 to request a reporting form, then complete and return to the address on the pre-addressed form, or submit by fax to 1-800-FDA-0178
Healthcare professionals may dial FDA’s Drug Information Line at 855-543-DRUG (3784) and press * to get the most recent information regarding the meningitis recall and speak directly to a pharmacist.