Sunday, March 31, 2013

Reforms slow in wake of meningitis outbreak

March 31, 2013
Legal action is proceeding in the nation's fungal meningitis outbreak, but regulatory reform has been slow.
Last week, Michigan At-torney General Bill Schuette requested a grand-jury in-vestigation into whether the New England Compounding Center violated state law in distributing tainted steroid solutions in Michigan.
Yet while Congress and state regulatory agencies are debating changes in the way compounding pharmacies are regulated, little action has been forthcoming six months into the outbreak. Nor is any expected soon.
That's a concern for men-ingitis patients such as Jona Angst.
"I would have thought they would have jumped on it," the Brighton resident said. "It seems they're trying to do something — but it has been six months."
The contaminated steroids had been used by health-care facilities, including Michi-gan Pain Specialists in Genoa Township, to treat back pain.
Angst developed an epi-dural abscess — an infection but not full-blown meningitis — after receiving shots last year and is in treatment.
"The medicine's been horrible, I've been losing my hair," she said. "But it's been horrible for all of us."
The outbreak was first reported in September and Congress first took up the issue in November.
U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton said Congress needs to be thorough it its investigation into the outbreak and in drafting solutions to prevent it from happening again.
"We must first fully understand what went wrong and caused the tragic deaths of dozens of Americans to ensure that any legislative solution put forth actually solves the problem," said Rogers in a statement to the Press & Argus.
Rogers sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees the Food and Drug Administration. He said the committee is also investigating the "oversight of the NECC to understand its knowledge of the operations."
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