Detroit — Seven new federal lawsuits were filed Thursday against a Massachusetts-based pharmacy accused of supplying contaminated steroid injections that infected hundreds of patients with fungal meningitis.
The complaints are the latest in a string filed since October — both class-action and individual — against New England Compounding Pharmacy Inc. on behalf of Michigan residents infected with the illness from the tainted injections.
Health officials say roughly 1,900 people statewide were unknowingly exposed to the contaminated steroids when they visited four Michigan medical facilities. More than a dozen people in the state died.
Lawmakers this month have pressed federal medical regulators on how the company was permitted to continue distribution of pharmaceuticals, despite repeated lapses known to government agencies.
Southfield-based attorney Geoffrey Fieger, whose firm filed the newest lawsuits, said the company "had no business" operating and likely doesn't have enough insurance to pay out the claims.
"It was a rogue company. It shows what happens when there's no regulation," said Fieger, who has more than 40 other clients in the matter.
"Here's what happens if you have less regulation; you have a company that puts out contaminated drugs and they have not nearly enough insurance. It's very likely, with a catastrophic claim such is that exists here, there's going to be not nearly enough money."
Contaminated injections from the compounding center are to blame for the deaths of at least 34 people and illnesses of 490 in 19 states.
The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs' Bureau of Health Care Services has said the agency and other state departments have launched a review of how Michigan regulates compounding pharmacies. .
Compounding pharmacies typically are overseen by pharmacy boards in states in which the companies are based. But larger compounders, like the New England Compounding Center, mass produce and ship vials to many parts of the country.
Also Thursday, a government watchdog group sent a letter to the Federal Drug Administration. The group, Public Citizen, is asking the agency to revisit 16 compounding pharmacies that received warning letters between 2003 and 2009.
Fieger said attorneys for the pharmacy have expressed interest in having the all the Michigan cases consolidated. That hasn't yet occurred.
Staff writer Serena Maria Daniels contributed
From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20121129/METRO/211290481#ixzz2Dfy5wM9O
From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20121129/METRO/211290481#ixzz2DfxXeDTe