UPDATE: 9/17/13 9:35 PM CDT
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -- Three separate lawsuits representing 34 people in Kentucky and Tennessee were filed today.
The suits are going after the manufacturers, distributors and prescribers of an epidural steroid shot tainted with fungus that can cause meningitis. The shots were manufactured by the New England Compounding Company. Some were prescribed to patients of Howell Allen Clinic, and administered at the Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center in Nashville to treat back related issues.
"They were paying $6.50 a vial for this medication. It was being raised about $2.50, and the company was going to have to pay an additional $2.50 for the medication. They decided to switch vendors and went with a new vendor, and they did not do their due diligence to check out the new vendor, and basically, the new vendor supplied the clinic with the tainted medication," said ELPO partner Bob Young.
Four of the patients represented by young have been diagnosed with fungal meningitis and are receiving treatment, but there is currently no cure.
The law firm of English Lucas Priest & Owsley filed lawsuits against the manufacturers, distributors, and prescribers of epidural steroid injections tainted with fungus that can cause meningitis today.
According to a press release from the law firm, three separate lawsuits representing 34 victims in Kentucky and Tennessee were filed in U.S. District Court, Middle District of Tennessee, against the manufacturers, distributors and prescribers of epidural steroid injections tainted with fungus that can cause meningitis.
It goes on to say, all of the patients were originally seen at Howell Allen, a medical practice in Nashville. The patients were prescribed an epidural steroid injection to treat back-related issues. The shots were manufactured by New England Compounding Co., which has since filed bankruptcy.
Four of the patients represented by ELPO attorneys Bob Young and Kyle Roby have been diagnosed with fungal meningitis and receive ongoing treatment for it. There is no cure for it, however. Others have not been diagnosed, but could develop fungal meningitis at any point in their lives. Fungal meningitis can sit dormant in the body for years and once it comes to life, it can be deadly.
The lawsuit alleges that the lapses began at NECC, which manufactured the injections in a non-sterile environment. The company that was hired to test the injections before they were shipped failed to do so adequately. The Nashville physician who ordered the injections for patients signed off on ordering the injections in batches of 500 to save money, even though federal law prohibits this practice unless the compounder is specifically licensed to do so. The clinic used past patient lists, sometimes with added fake names that included such names as Mickey Mouse, to order the injections. When the injections arrived at the clinic, they were stored at room temperature, violating the standard of care that called for refrigerated storage.
Clinic officials were told on Sept. 19, 2012, that the injections were tainted, but still administered the injections on Sept. 20, 2012.
Those being sued include:
- Ameridose LLC and its affiliates, which are related companies to the bankrupt NECC, which sold the tainted injections;
- Analytical Research Laboratories, which was hired to test the injections before they were shipped to doctors and hospitals;
- Howell Allen Clinic in Nashville, which prescribed the injections;
- St. Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center, LLC, in Nashville, which administered the injections;
- St. Thomas Network and St. Thomas West Hospital, formerly known as St. Thomas Hospital and St. Thomas Health, which co-own the St. Thomas Outpatient Center with Howell Allen;
- Dr. John Culclasure and Debra Schamberg, R.N., who ordered the injections in batches, which was a violation of federal law, which requires that the injections be ordered one at a time for each patient.
Nationally, there have been 70 deaths from the tainted steroid injections.