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Steroid Injection Drug Again Linked to Side Effects Due to Contaminated Vials

Filed June 10th, 2013 Joshua Sophy

Bacteria and fungus were contaminating drug vials used by a Tennessee pharmacy that’s been linked to the nation’s second outbreak of illness caused by the compounded drug methylprednisolone acetate, an injected steroid painkiller.

According to an Associated Press (AP) report, officials with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) discovered the contaminants in the drug vials at the Main Street Family Pharmacy in Newbern, Tenn. The investigation was prompted by seven cases of reported skin abscesses among patients who had received a drug injection vial from this location.

All the victims thus far live in North Carolina or Illinois and received the steroid pain-relieving injection methylprednisolone acetate. That same compound drug was linked to a deadly outbreak of fungal meningitis last year that eventually killed 58 people and made more than 700 others seriously ill. The FDA just placed this Tennessee compound pharmacy on a three-year probation in March after an inspection revealed several violations that impacted drug safety, according to AP.

Main Street Family Pharmacy shipped its supplies of methylprednisolone acetate to the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Kentucky, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

As we have noted in previous reports on the deadly outbreak of fungal meningitis linked to New England Compounding Center last year – which eventually led to that pharmacy’s closing – a site like Main Street Family Pharmacy, a compounding lab, is supposed to receive individual orders for the compounded drug methylprednisolone acetate. It fills orders on need and ships them accordingly.

There have been no reports to date of any new cases of fungal meningitis that are linked to the Tennessee pharmacy’s shipment. Main Street Family Pharmacy was placed on probation by the FDA after inspectors found supplies of out-of-date drugs that were being used in the company’s compounded drugs and shipped to customers, according to AP.

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