Contaminated Drug for Joint Pains Leads to Meningitis Outbreaks


Several states are alerted by meningitis outbreaks due to methylprednisolone acetate, a kind of infected steroids. Methylprednisolone acetate injections are usually used to treat joint pains and other related disorders. Some also use this drug as a treatment for other purposes, such as blood disorders, some types of cancer, eye and skin disorders and problems with the immune system.

However, the batch of drugs received by several states including Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota are tainted by methylprednisolone acetate. This drug was given to patients complaining of joint pains and back problems.

Contaminated Drug for Joint Pains

The said tainted medication was administered between July 8 and September 28 this year. As of October 8, the Escambia County Health Department issued a press release saying 200 out of 300 patients were injected with the drug during the specified time frame. However, this number remains to be tentative as the investigation is still ongoing.

Symptoms to Look Out For

People who might have injected with this contaminated drug are advised to look out for symptoms like:

  • Increased redness, swelling, inflammation and pain in the treated joint
  • A bad case of fever, headaches and other stroke-related symptoms.

Patients are advised to consult their health care provider as soon as these symptoms are observed.

According to Dr. John Armstrong, Florida State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health, fungal meningitis is not contagious and can be transferred from one person to the next and that these meningitis outbreaks are potentially caused by a contaminated medication like methylprednisolone acetate.

In a press release issued on October 8 by the Florida Department of Health, communicating with several medical communities is already ongoing to share and disseminate information regarding the outbreak. Hal S. Pineless, DO, FACN, of the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association, said that the situation is very critical and that their office of Osteopathic Medical Association will continue to collaborate with the Department of Health to protect the patients of the state.

Confirmed Cases and Deaths Plague Several States

Unfortunately, on October 9, several deaths have already been reported in some states affected by the meningitis outbreaks. John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH Tennessee Health Commissioner reported that out of the 39 confirmed cases of fungal meningitis, 6 of them resulted to death.

Furthermore, there are also six confirmed cases in Florida, particularly in Marion County and one confirmed death of a 70-year old patient. The patient was said to have passed away in July, long before the outbreaks were discovered. John Armstrong later issued a statement relating his condolences to the family and stated his commitment to continue the investigation regarding the matter. He is also encouraging everyone to look out for the symptoms and get medical assistance as soon as something suspicious occurs. Lastly, Armstrong said that no more drugs, may they be steroids or not, coming from New England Compounding Center will enter the state of Florida.

New England Compounding Center is said to be the source of the infected steroids. Further investigations are still ongoing within infected states.