Members of the Tennessee Board of Pharmacists will be discussing additional measures the state could take in regulating compounding pharmacies in the wake of a multi-state outbreak of fungal meningitis that has sickened hundreds of people across the country.
Doctors in Tennessee were among the first to link the outbreak to steroid injections prepared by a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy. Across the county, 45 people, including 14 in Tennessee, have died after getting the shots.
A task force formed by the state board to look at state laws in regard to compounding pharmacies is expected to make recommendations during a meeting Thursday.
The recent national outbreak of fungal meningitis has taken an especially strong toll on Tennessee. Despite the fact that other states reported more exposures to tainted steroid shots, only one state has a higher meningitis attack rate than Tennessee.
The fungal meningitis outbreak has been traced back to tainted steroid shots produced at a compounding center in Massachusetts.
An article published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine shows a wide variation in the rate of meningitis infections in states that received shipments of the tainted medicine. Tennessee has the second highest attack rate in the nation, with 10.9 infections per 100 people.
The number of fungal meningitis cases in Tennessee is rising again. Four more infections related to a tainted batch of spinal steroids have been reported in the Volunteer State. The number of known fungal meningitis cases in Tennessee now stands at 88 according to data compiled by the state Health Department.
Members of Tennessee's Board of Pharmacy recently revoked the license of the Massachusetts pharmacy linked to a deadly meningitis outbreak, but a review by The Tennessean shows the board has been lenient on compounding pharmacies in this state accused of violations.
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.