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Utah clinics swept up in meningitis-related drug recall

Published October 25, 2012 9:30 am

Health • No meds shipped to clinics were tied to outbreak, but officials urge vigilance.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sixteen Utah medical facilities bought drugs from the pharmacy at the center of a fungal meningitis outbreak that has sickened 317 people in 17 states and killed 24.

None of the drugs — including injectable morphine, heart and eye medications — have been linked to the outbreak. They are part of a larger recall of all drugs produced on or after May 21 by the Massachusetts-based New England Compounding Center (NECC), said Theron Jeppson, an epidemiologist at the Utah Department of Health.

To date, the only drug known to be tainted is methylprednisolone acetate, an injection given to patients for back pain, said Jeppson. No Utahns are known to have received tainted injections, and there have been no cases in Utah of fungal meningitis, he said.

But out of an abundance of caution the Food and Drug Administration, as part of its investigation of NECC, published a list of 3,000 medical facilities known to have received products from the specialty pharmacy.

The initial list, published on Monday, named two Utah health facilities but was found to have errors. This latest, amended version, names 16 centers.

Among them are larger hospitals, including the outpatient surgical center at St. Mark's Hospital in Salt Lake City and Mountain View Hospital in Payson. Both are owned by the for-profit chain HCA MountainStar.

State health officials have directed these facilities to contact patients given recalled drugs.

"We're asking that patients remain vigilant of any signs or symptoms consistent with a fungal infection, and that they report those to their health provider," said Jeppson. Health providers, in turn, must report suspected cases to the health department, he said.

"We want to cast nets widely so we can identify products that may be contaminated outside the first three lots [of injections]," Jeppson said.

Symptoms seen in victims of the outbreak include headache, neck pain or stiffness, fever, nausea, vomiting, and in some cases, weakness or numbness and sensitivity to light. Most have begun experiencing symptoms one to four weeks after their epidural injection.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says about 14,000 patients may have received injections from the three tainted lots of steroids, 97 percent of whom have been contacted for follow-up.

How many Utahns are being contacted as part of the expanded recall isn't known.

Two MountainStar patients received recalled products, and neither shows signs of infection, said the health chain's spokeswoman Audrey Glasby. All NECC products have been pulled from hospital shelves, she said.

Wasatch Eye Specialists in Logan purchased two drugs from NECC: avastin, an injection for macular degeneration, and mitomycin, an injection used in some Lasik surgery patients, said a clinic technician, Jen Holste.

The facility buys these products from two separate pharmacies, and Holste thinks they disposed of all NECC products before using them. "I'm going through our patient list to make sure," said Holste.

One patient at the Cottonwood Surgery Center in Murray was notified several weeks ago, said the facility's administrator, Jodi Jones. "We purchased a bladder irrigant [from NECC], a special solution made for one patient. We've received no feedback from this person," said Jones, who expressed surprise at the recall.

"I've used this company at previous practices I've worked at in Idaho. They're not a fly-by-night operation. They're very reputable," she said.

Twitter: @kirstendstewart —

Utah facilities contacted in expanded recall

These Utah businesses received drugs from the Massachusetts pharmacy at the center of a fungal meningitis outbreak. Their shipments did not include any of the drugs linked to the illnesses, but other drugs from the pharmacy have been recalled as out of an abundance of caution.

BOUNTIFUL HILLS EYE CENTER, BOUNTIFUL

CACHE VALLEY SPECIALTY HOSPITAL, NORTH LOGAN

COTTONWOOD SURGERY CENTER, MURRAY

FAISEL ZAMAN MD., MURRAY

INTERMOUNTAIN SPINE INSTITUTE, MURRAY

MINDFUL MEDICAL CIRCLE OF LIFE WOMEN'S CENTER, SOUTH OGDEN

MOUNT OGDEN EYE CENTER, OGDEN

MOUNTAIN VIEW HOSPITAL, PAYSON

MOUNTAIN WEST MEDICAL CENTER, TOOELE

NEXUS PAIN CARE, PROVO

RIVERWOODS SURGERY CENTER, PROVO

ST. MARK'S OUTPATIENT SURGERY CENTER, SALT LAKE CITY

SURGICARE CENTER OF UTAH, SALT LAKE CITY

WASATCH EYE SPECIALISTS, LOGAN

ZION EYE INSTITUTE, ST. GEORGE