Additional NECC Product Implicated in Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Investigation

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As a result of FDA, CDC and state health departments’ ongoing investigation of contamination at the New England Compounding Center’s (NECC) Framingham, Mass. facility, on Oct. 4, the FDA advised providers to not use any NECC products. On Oct. 6, NECC announced a recall of all its products. The FDA had previously issued guidance for medical professionals that all products distributed by NECC should be retained, secured, and withheld from use.  Also as a result of the ongoing investigation of NECC, a patient with possible meningitis potentially associated with epidural injection of an additional NECC product, triamcinolone acetonide, has been identified through active surveillance and reported to FDA. Triamcinolone acetonide is a type of steroid injectable product made by NECC. The cases of meningitis identified to date have been associated with methylprednisolone acetate, another similar steroid injectable product.

In addition, two transplant patients with Aspergillus fumigatus infection who were administered NECC cardioplegic solution during surgery have been reported. Investigation of these patients is ongoing; and there may be other explanations for their Aspergillus infection. Cardioplegic solution is used to induce cardiac muscle paralysis during open heart surgery to prevent injury to the heart.

The FDA continues to evaluate these reports, and when the agency obtains additional information, it will be promptly relayed to the public. FDA has not confirmed that these three infections were, in fact, caused by an NECC product

At this point in FDA’s investigation, the sterility of any injectable drugs, including ophthalmic drugs that are injectable or used in conjunction with eye surgery, and cardioplegic solutions produced by NECC are of significant concern, and out of an abundance of caution, patients who received these products should be alerted to the potential risk of infection. At this time, no cases of infection have been reported in connection with any NECC-produced ophthalmic drug that is injectable or used in conjunction with eye surgery, but the FDA believes this class of products could present potentially similar risks of infection.

The FDA had previously issued guidance for medical professionals that all products distributed by NECC should be retained, secured, and withheld from use. Based on the new information described above, out of an abundance of caution, FDA advises clinicians to follow up with patients for whom they administered an injectable product, including an ophthalmic drug that is injectable or used in conjunction with eye surgery, or a cardioplegic solution purchased from or produced by NECC after May 21, 2012. The FDA does not urge patient follow-up at this time for NECC products of lower risk such as topicals (for example, lotions, creams, eyedrops not used in conjunction with surgery) and suppositories.

Clinicians should inform patients who received the NECC products noted above of the symptoms of possible infection and instruct them to contact you or another healthcare provider immediately if they experience any of these symptoms.

The signs and symptoms of meningitis include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea and vomiting, photophobia (sensitivity to light) and altered mental status. Symptoms for other possible infections may include fever; swelling, increasing pain, redness, warmth at injection site; visual changes, pain, redness or discharge from the eye; chest pain, or drainage from the surgical site (infection within the chest).

Clinicians are also requested to report any suspected adverse events following use of these products to FDA's MedWatch program at 1-800-332-1088 or www.fda.gov/medwatch6.

Healthcare professionals may dial FDA’s Drug Information Line at 855-543-DRUG (3784) and press * to get the most recent information regarding the meningitis recall and speak directly to a pharmacist.

For an ICT slide show, "Meningitis Q&A for Clinicians," CLICK HERE

For an ICT slide show, "A Primer on Meningitis," CLICK HERE.

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