Many Tennessee Meningitis Patients Received Old Medicine Well Past "Best By" Date

Nov 8, 2012

Nearly 150 patients exposed to potentially contaminated steroid injections in Tennessee were given medicine that was well past the normal shelf life. The Tennessean reports some of the medicine was more than seven weeks old, well past the industry standard of 24 hours.

Of the 150 patients given the medicine, at least 30 of them developed fungal meningitis. That’s a rate of infection far higher than those who were given fresher medicine. The contaminated steroid shots were produced by a Massachusetts company blamed for a nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak that has sickened over 400 people, and killed 31—including 13 in Tennessee.

The compounding center in Massachusetts claims to have performed sterility tests on its products, but that state’s Board of Pharmacy has said that testing was inadequate and shipments were made before the safety of medicines was verified.

The editor-in-chief of a leading U.S. medical journal says the steroid shots never should have been mass-produced in the first place.