Lawsuit Filed Over Meningitis Outbreak
October 20, 2012

Lawsuit Filed Against Pharmacy As Meningitis Outbreak Worsens

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports — Your Universe Online

The Boston-based pharmacy at the heart of a growing meningitis outbreak is being sued by the victims who have fallen ill after receiving injectable steroid treatments for back pain.

According to Friday reports by Tim McLaughlin of Reuters, patients filed a lawsuit against executives at the New England Compounding Center (NECC), attempting to freeze their assets.

Company officials Barry Cadden, Lisa Cadden, and Greg Conigliaro are named in the lawsuit, which was filed in Middlesex County Superior Court by former federal prosecutor Peter McGrath on behalf of one or more unidentified plaintiffs, he added.

"We want to pierce the corporate veil and go after the individuals," McGrath, whose law firm is based in New Hampshire, told reporters Friday in a telephone interview, according to an October 19 article published by "My clients are in a lot of pain."

Meanwhile, McLaughlin and fellow Reuters reporter Bill Berkrot reported, as of Friday evening, 14 new cases and one additional death linked to the outbreak had been reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

That brought the total number of fatalities up to 21 and the total number of illnesses to 268.

"There were four new cases reported in both Michigan and Florida, one each in Indiana, Ohio and Virginia, and three in Tennessee, which has been the hardest hit of the 16 states with confirmed cases," McLaughlin and Berkrot said, adding the most recent death was in Michigan, bringing that state's total up to five.

On Thursday, health regulators in the U.S. confirmed the vials of methylprednisolone -- the NECC steroid used for the spinal injections -- did, in fact, contain the Exserohilum fungus. Those officials told Reuters that up to 14,000 people may have been exposed to the medication, which had been shipped to 76 medical facilities in 23 states.

CDC and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials said that approximately 97% of exposed patients had already been contacted.

"Federal authorities are investigating how NECC supplied hospitals, clinics and other healthcare providers with large orders of compounded drugs and whether it violated state laws regulating pharmacies," McLaughlin and Berkrot said. "Doctors have warned that early diagnosis and treatment with a powerful antifungal drug is vital to prevent meningitis from attacking the brain."