Corrected list of New England Compounding customers includes 215 in Massachusetts
The US Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday night posted a corrected list of more than 3,000 New England Compounding Company customers that purchased products other than the suspected lots of injectable steroids blamed for a nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak.
Among them were 215 Massachusetts doctors and health centers, including most of the state’s hospitals. All received products shipped on or after May 21, the date when the first batch of suspect steroids were produced at the Framingham pharmacy.
The agency has said there is no clear link between other products and the infections but it has asked providers to alert patients who received injectable drugs out of “an abundance of caution.”
At least two people have become ill after treatment with other products from the pharmacy, though federal officials have said it is not known whether the drugs were the cause. The FDA has asked providers to alert patients who received injectable drugs from New England Compounding, particularly eye injections or a drug used to temporarily stop the heart from beating during surgery, called cardioplegia solution.
Patients are urged to watch for signs of infection and contact their health care provider if they are concerned. Symptoms of meningitis include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light, and altered mental status.
Injectable cardioplegia solutions, eye drugs, painkillers, and anesthesia are among the products delivered to Massachusetts health providers, according to a list posted on the FDA website showing the drugs received by each customer. Several hospitals in the Boston area said late last week and Monday that they have begun notifying patients.
The FDA had posted a much shorter customer list Monday -- it included just 75 Massachusetts providers -- then removed it hours later. Spokeswoman Erica Jefferson said the agency received the list from New England Compounding, removed identifying information such as phone numbers or names of pharmacy directors, and put the rest online. Before it was posted Monday, however, the spreadsheet was wrongly sorted so that customers and products did not match.
“Things were not aligned properly,” Jefferson said.
More than 300 patients in 17 states have fallen ill with meningitis or join infections linked to the New England Compounding steroids, and 23 have died, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No cases have been reported in Massachusetts.
The CDC issued an advisory Tuesday night saying the greatest risk for developing fungal meningitis is within the first six weeks after an injection of the tainted steroids, so patients who received such injections near their spines within the last six weeks should be monitored more closely by physicians. The agency still advises against starting treatment with antifungal drugs before tests indicate a patient has fungal meningitis because the drugs can have serious side effects.Chelsea Conaboy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @cconaboy.