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W.Va. facilities pull products from manufacturer linked to meningitis outbreak

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Eighteen West Virginia hospitals, doctor's offices and clinics received drugs from a pharmaceutical manufacturer linked to a multi-state outbreak of fungal meningitis, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,

Only one of those facilities, Pars Interventional Pain in Parkersburg, received the steroid shots linked to the meningitis outbreak that has killed 25 people in 18 states.

The rest received other products compounded at New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass., including eye drops and numbing gels. Even though those products are not linked to the meningitis outbreak, the FDA advised pharmacists and doctors early last month to pull the products from their shelves and notify affected patients.

Charleston Surgical Hospital and Charleston Area Medical Center's Teays Valley Hospital in Hurricane are included on that list.

Jenny Adams, Charleston Surgical Hospital's director of nursing, said her facility received eye drops from NECC.

Charleston Surgical Hospital staff has contacted about 800 patients who may have received the eye drops, which were used to dilate patients' eyes before cataract surgery, Adams said.

She said the hospital began contacting patients on Oct. 4. All of the patients have since had follow-up appointments with their doctors, and none has shown signs of infection.

Adams said the hospital also pulled its stock of eye drops as soon as staff there heard about the other problems at NECC and is now in the process of sending the drugs back to the manufacturer.

"We pulled our stock when we got the alert about the injectible medications. We pulled it even before the FDA suggested we do so," she said.

CAMC spokesman Dale Witte said Teays Valley Hospital received only topical gels and inhalant drugs from NECC. Neither of those drugs is linked to the meningitis outbreak.

Witte said the hospital is not contacting patients, per the FDA's advice.

"According to the FDA website, the FDA does not urge patient follow-up at this time for NECC products of lower risk such as the medications (CAMC Teays Valley Hospital) received," Witte said.

He said the hospital might not have administered the affected drugs to patients. The topical numbing gel was used only for children in the hospital's emergency department, and the inhalants were used for patients with respiratory issues.

"There's such a low volume at Teays Valley, a couple if any doses have been given out," he said.

Other West Virginia facilities included on the FDA's list are: Dr. Jerry Black's office in Buckhannon, Bluefield Regional Medical Center, Braxton County Memorial Hospital in Gassaway, City Hospital in Martinsburg, Mid-Atlantic Retina Consultations in Morgantown, Monongalia General Hospital in Morgantown, Raleigh General Hospital in Beckley, The Rejuvenation Center II in Wheeling, Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital in Weston, The Eye MDs in Parkersburg, West Virginia University's Ruby Memorial Hospital, United Hospital Center in Bridgeport and Wheeling Hospital in Wheeling.

On Oct. 4, the FDA advised hospitals and clinics around the country to contact patients who had been exposed to steroid shots manufactured by NECC. The shots were used in eye and heart surgeries.

NECC issued a voluntary recall of all its products on Oct. 6.

The company said in a news release that the move was taken out of an abundance of caution because of the risk of contamination but said there was no indication any other products have been contaminated, the Associated Press reported at the time.

The tainted shots have led to 344 fungal meningitis cases in 18 states and 25 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

No cases and no deaths have been reported in West Virginia, though four surrounding states have been affected. Pennsylvania has reported one case, Virginia has reported 43 including two deaths, Ohio has had 13 cases and Maryland has reported 19 cases and one death.

Fungal meningitis is not contagious. Patients contract the disease when a fungus spreads through the bloodstream and enters the central nervous system. Symptoms include headache, fever, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light.

Contact writer Zack Harold at 304-348-7939 or zack.harold@dailymail.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ZackHarold.

 


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