October 25, 2012

More than 30 Maine facilities bought products from meningitis-linked pharmacy

But state health officials say the injectable steroid blamed for the fungal meningitis outbreak has not been used here.

By Dennis Hoey dhoey@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND – An expanded list of health organizations that received products from a Massachusetts pharmacy linked to 300 meningitis illnesses and 24 deaths nationwide includes more than 30 facilities based in Maine.

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Federal agents investigate the offices of New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass., on Oct. 16, 2012. A steroid made by the company is linked to 300 meningitis illnesses and 24 deaths nationwide.


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List of Affected Maine Facilities

Akari (Portland)
Blue Hill Memorial Hospital (Blue Hill)
Cary Medical Center (Caribou)
Central Maine Medical Center (Lewiston)
Charles A. Dean Memorial Hospital (Greenville)
Chest Medicine Associates (South Portland)
Cosmetic Enhancement Center of NE (Portland)
Eastern Maine Eye Associates (Bangor)
Eastern Maine Medical Center (Bangor)
Ellsworth Uveitis and Retina Care (Ellsworth)
Eye Center of Central Maine (Waterville)
Eyecare Medical Group (Portland)
Goodall Hospital (Sanford)
Kittery Opthalmic Consultants (Kittery)
Lyndon W. Morgan MD (Belfast)
Maine Coast Memorial Hospital (Ellsworth)
Maine Eye Center (Portland)
Maine General Medical Center (Waterville)
Maine Medical Center (Portland)
Mid Coast Hospital - Pharmacy (Brunswick)
Miles Memorial Hospital (Damariscotta)
Penobscot Valley Plastic Surgery (Bangor)
Scarborough Outpatient IV Therapy (Scarborough)
Southern Maine Medical Center (Biddeford)
St. Mary's Regional Medical Center (Lewiston)
St. Joseph Hospital Maine (Bangor)
Susan R. Baskin MD (Portland)
VA Medical Center Togus (Augusta)
Waldo County General Hospital (Belfast)
York Pain Consultants, LLC (York)
York Pain Consultants - IT (York)

The list, released Wednesday, of health facilities in Maine that purchased products from the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass., included such institutions as Maine Medical Center in Portland, but state health officials say the injectable steroid (methylprednisolone acetate) blamed for the fungal meningitis outbreak has not been used here.

The Associated Press also reported that no one in Maine has been affected by the outbreak.

State Epidemiologist Stephen Sears and Dr. Sheila Pinette, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, could not be reached late Wednesday night.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports on its website that New England Compounding Center surrendered its operating license to the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Pharmacy on Oct. 3.

Earlier this month, New England Compounding Center recalled all products currently in circulation that were distributed from its facility.

Maine Medical Center kept two of the company's products in stock and only one patient was given a medication -- at MMC's outpatient IV therapy center in Scarborough -- after the initial May 21 recall, according to Brian Marden, senior director of the pharmacy at Maine Medical Center.

Marden identified the two products as glycerine, which is injected three or four times a year in a surgical procedure to alleviate pain; and a pain pump used to inject pain medicine into the spinal canal.

The patient, who used the pain pump, has been notified and is doing fine, Marden said. An inspector from the FDA visited the hospital earlier this month to make sure it had removed all New England Compounding Center products and that patients that had used those products had been contacted.

"From a public health standpoint, this was the biggest medical recall I can remember," Marden said. "I think the FDA is doing the right thing, being overly cautious."

Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick, Miles Memorial Hospital in Damariscotta and Southern Maine Medical Center in Biddeford, and several eye care centers also made the FDA's expanded list.

Steve Trockman, a spokesman for Mid Coast Hospital, said Wednesday night the Brunswick facility did not purchase the steroid medication that was linked to the meningitis outbreak.

However, Trockman said a total of 19 patients received injections prepared by the Massachusetts company.

The hospital began notifying those patients on Oct. 22, Trockman said. They have been told to be aware of signs and symptoms of an infection.

"There is no evidence that any of these persons will become infected and we are not aware of any adverse safety concerns," he said.

Meningitis symptoms could include: neck stiffness, headache, sensitivity to bright light, nausea, and fever.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:


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