An outbreak of fungal meningitis across the country has been linked to a batch of contaminated steroids used to combat back pain. A total of 214 cases of the rare disease have been reported across the country, with 15 deaths. Five cases have been reported in Minnesota.
The outbreak has been traced back to The New England Compounding Center of Framingham, Mass., a compounding pharmacy.
Many questions are being raised about this outbreak, including how compounding pharmacies are regulated. The federal Food and Drug Administration controls and inspects pharmaceutical companies that develop and produce new medications, but compounding pharmacies lie in a gray area. A 2002 Supreme Court decision reversed a congressional act that gave FDA?control over these pharmacies, and nothing has been done to correct that.
Federal and state governments must take a closer look now at who should be setting standards and practices to ensure the safety of the medications our health care providers use to treat us. These medications should not be making us sicker.