Altru to discard meds from a firm linked to meningitisThe Grand Forks health care provider said none of its patients are threatened and the products it is discarding, though sold by the same drug maker, have not themselves been linked to meningitis.
By: Herald Staff Report, Grand Forks Herald
Altru Health System in Grand Forks is getting rid of all products it bought from a Massachusetts drug maker linked to a recent meningitis outbreak, even though those products have not been implicated in the outbreak, the organization said Wednesday.
“The safety of our patients is our highest concern,” Dr. Eric Lunn, Altru’s chief medical executive, said in the news release. “All seven patients who have been treated with this product are being contacted. Given the information we have, we feel there is no risk for our patients.”
Altru is one of six health care providers in North Dakota that bought products from the New England Compounding Center, according to the state Health Department. None, however, bought the contaminated steroid blamed for 15 deaths nationwide from fungal meningitis.
The other providers include Service Drug Pharmacy in Williston, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, Hogue Vein Institute, Lamb Plastic Surgery Center and Northern Plains Surgery Center, all in Fargo.
A total of 233 meningitis cases in 15 states are linked to NECC’s steroid, none of them in North Dakota.
“However, additional cases of meningitis reported in other states have indicated that other medications may also be causing meningitis,” the Health Department said in a Wednesday news release.
The department endorsed a federal recommendation that health care providers notify any patients exposed to any NECC product.
“Because they’re being cautious and making sure we’re not missing any products, we’re expanding the products that could be implicated in some of these infections,” Michelle Feist, a Health Department epidemiologist, said in the news release.
Altru said that the only NECC product it purchased was for sclerotherapy, a treatment for blood and lymph vessels, and that product was purchased in February, well before the May 21, 2012, (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) alert.”
The Health Department said patients who do not have symptoms of meningitis need not take any action.
Symptoms of meningitis include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light and altered mental status, the department said. Symptoms for fungal infections may include fever; swelling and increasing pain, redness, warmth at injection site; visual changes, pain, redness or discharge from the eye; chest pain, or drainage from the surgical site.