Eight Facilities in Florida Got Tainted Medicine from Pharmacy Linked to Nationwide Meningitis Outbreak: DOH

The eight facilities received shipments from one or more of contaminated lot numbers of this medication

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Six people at Surgical Park Center, an outpatient facility on Kendall Drive, received the potentially tainted medicine from a Massachusetts specialty pharmacy that has been linked to a nationwide meningitis outbreak. Bill Cox of Surgical Park Center said in a statement that it has stopped using all products it received from the Massachusetts organization. Doctors Jim Turner and Matthew Smith talked about the issue. (Published Saturday, Oct 6, 2012)

    The Florida Department of Health on Friday identified eight facilities, including one in Miami, that received contaminated pain medicine from a Massachusetts specialty pharmacy that has been linked to a nationwide meningitis outbreak.

    Six people at Surgical Park Center, an outpatient facility on Kendall Drive, received the potentially tainted medicine. A spokeswoman for the facility told NBC 6 South Florida that it stopped using products received from the Massachusetts organization.

    "We have contacted these patients to inform them of this situation," the facility said.

    The Department of Health said in a news release that the eight facilities received shipments from one or more of contaminated lot numbers of this medication. Three of the medical centers are in Ocala and the rest are scattered around Florida.

    Centers for Disease Control investigators have focused on a steroid custom-made by a specialty pharmacy, New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass. Health inspectors found fungus in at least one sealed vial of the steroid at the company's facility this week.

    The pharmacy recalled 17,676 single-dose vials of the steroid, methylprednisolone acetate, which is injected into the spine to relieve back pain. Shipments went to clinics in 23 states.

    Fungal meningitis can cause several symptoms in people who contract it.

    "Headache, fever, stiff neck, altered mental status," Dr. Jim Turner told NBC 6 South Florida.

    As of Saturday, there have been 64 cases in nine states linked to the medicine; four of those cases were in Florida, according to the CDC. Seven people in the country have died from fungal meningitis, three of whom lived in Tennessee.

    Aaron Keller, a spokesman with the Florida Department of Health, said it's unclear how many injections of the contaminated pain medicine were administered.

    "We do not know at this point," he said. "The investigation is ongoing."

    The Associated Press called all eight facilities on Friday, and left messages with seven.

    Michael Guarino, an administrator for at the Surgery Center of Ocala, said that his ambulatory surgical center bought the medicine from the Massachusetts pharmacy in late May and administered it to 20 patients in July and August. The center still had some of the medicine in question when they found out about the meningitis outbreak and contamination on Tuesday.

    Guarino said that all 20 patients who received the injection have been contacted and that they are showing no effects of meningitis.

    "I've been in the business for 15 years and nothing like this has ever occurred," he said.

    Guarino and Keller said that the Florida facilities buy medicine from pharmacies across the country, depending on drug shortages, price and availability.

    The state Department of Health said the affected facilities are: Florida Pain Clinic, Ocala; Interventional Rehab Center, Pensacola; Marion Pain Management Center, Ocala; North County Surgicenter, Palm Beach; Orlando Center for Outpatient Surgery, Orlando; Pain Consultants of West Florida, Pensacola; Surgery Center of Ocala and Surgical Park Center, Miami.

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