According to several sources, a judge has been asked to approve a $100 million settlement to aid victims of last year’s Meningitis outbreak, which was traced back to New England Compounding Center. The Massachusetts Pharmacy is believed to have manufactured steroid injections that were tainted with black mold and caused a nationwide outbreak of the deadly disease. WBZ reports that “NECC’s owners, its insurers and one of its affiliates will contribute an aggregate amount estimated to exceed $100 million to a compensation fund to be distributed to NECC creditors, including those who died or suffered significant injuries” as a result of receiving the drug.
The outbreak quickly grew out of control and spread across 20 states. The New England Compounding Center surrendered its license in 2012, but the damage was already done. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention data shows that as many as 750 patients were sickened and 64 people died as a result of the contamination. The pharmacy then filed for bankruptcy.
Attorney Thomas Sobol, who is representing some of the victims that joined together to sue the company stated they have reached “another important step in a frustratingly long process to get fair compensation to hundreds of victims of the meningitis outbreak.” However he later added that, “There was unimaginable human death and suffering that cannot be compensated for in money no matter how much it would be.” The terms of the settlement require the company’s owners to contribute $50 million, and its insurers will add another $25 million. The rest will be from tax refunds and the sale of NECC affiliate, Ameridose, bringing the total to more than $100 million.
Victims infected by the tainted medicine contracted Fungal Meningitis, one of five types of the deadly illness. Both Bacterial and Viral Meningitis have vaccines to prevent against their infection, but the fungal strain does not. According to the CDC, Meningitis is “caused by the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord known as the meninges. The inflammation is usually caused by an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.” The disease is commonly spread by bacteria or viruses, but can also be caused by serious injury, cancer, or in this case, a certain medication.
Signs and Symptoms of Fungal Meningitis
• Fever • Headache • Stiff neck • Nausea and vomiting • Photophobia (sensitivity to light)
• Altered mental status
The settlement still needs to be approved by a judge, and Attorney Sobol says he hope the ruling will come by the end of the year so that victims can start receiving compensation for their painful injuries. For some, the compensation will come too late. Kel Papeleo recounted her experience to WBZ, saying, “It’s just working its way through my body and sometimes it’s crippling.” Papeleo is just 46 years old and now suffers from boils, constant infection, vision loss, and even survived a heart attack last year.
Without compromise, pharmaceutical companies have the absolute responsibility to manufacturer products that put the health and safety of patients above all else. When companies like the New England Compounding Center allow their products become contaminated and endanger the lives of hundreds of people, they need to be held accountable. If you or a loved one became ill after taking an injectable steroid, Alman & Altman can help. Our dedicated team of experienced Products Liability Lawyers is available 24 hours a day to discuss your rights and walk you through the process to receive the compensation you deserve. Our team of product liability and drug injury attorneys have decades of experience handling all types of drug injury cases.
Read the full article at CBS Boston