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FDA Statement on Fungal Meningitis Outbreak

October 15, 2012

As a result of FDA, CDC, and state health departments’ ongoing investigation of contamination at the New England Compounding Center’s (NECC) Framingham, Massachusetts facility, on October 4, the FDA advised providers to not use any NECC products. On October 6, NECC announced a recall of all its products. A complete list of all products subject to this recall is available via the link below. The FDA had previously issued guidance for medical professionals that all products distributed by NECC should be retained, secured, and withheld from use.

Also as a result of the ongoing investigation of NECC, a patient with possible meningitis potentially associated with epidural injection of an additional NECC product, triamcinolone acetonide, has been identified through active surveillance and reported to FDA. Triamcinolone acetonide is a type of steroid injectable product made by NECC. The cases of meningitis identified to date have been associated with methylprednisolone acetate, another similar steroid injectable product.

In addition, two transplant patients with Aspergillus fumigatus infection who were administered NECC cardioplegic solution during surgery have been reported. Investigation of these patients is ongoing; and there may be other explanations for their Aspergillus infection. Cardioplegic solution is used to induce cardiac muscle paralysis during open heart surgery to prevent injury to the heart.

FDA continues to evaluate these reports, and when the agency obtains additional information, it will be promptly relayed to the public. FDA has not confirmed that these three infections were, in fact, caused by an NECC product.

FDA Advice to Healthcare Practitioners

The FDA had previously issued guidance for medical professionals that all products distributed by NECC should be retained, secured, and withheld from use. Based on the new information described above, out of an abundance of caution, FDA advises you to follow-up with patients for whom you administered an injectable product, including an ophthalmic drug that is injectable or used in conjunction with eye surgery, or a cardioplegic solution purchased from or produced by NECC after May 21, 2012. FDA does not urge patient follow-up at this time for NECC products of lower risk such as topicals (for example, lotions, creams, eyedrops not used in conjunction with surgery) and suppositories.

The FDA recognizes that some health care professionals may receive a high volume of calls from patients or be concerned about having to notify many patients as a result of today's announcement. We ask you to use your clinical judgment in deciding which patients are at risk and contact those patients in whatever communications mode you prefer, whether it is email, phone or letter. Face-to-face communication with patients is not necessary.

Clinicians are also requested to report any suspected adverse events following use of these products to FDA's MedWatch program at 1-800-332-1088 or www.fda.gov/medwatch.

Healthcare professionals may dial FDA’s Drug Information Line at 855-543-DRUG (3784) and press * to get the most recent information regarding the meningitis recall and speak directly to a pharmacist.

For more information, please visit: meningitis outbreak.

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