Kentucky patients who were diagnosed with fungal meningitis or spine and joint infections within the past few years may be interested to learn that workers at a pharmaceutical company were charged on Dec. 17 for selling contaminated steroids. The report stated that the steroids, which were given to a large number of people for back pain in 2012, were linked to 64 patient deaths.

Workers at the Massachusetts-based pharmaceutical laboratory were accused of using expired, contaminated ingredients to produce the drugs. The workers were also accused of failing to test the drugs they were producing for impurities. Additionally, following the 2012 outbreak, investigators discovered standing water, mold and bacteria when investigating the laboratory. It was estimated that more than 750 patients across 20 states became ill as a result of the contaminated medicine.

Federal prosecutors ultimately brought charges against 14 individuals who were allegedly involved in the case. The most severe charges were brought against one of the co-founders of the company and a supervisory pharmacist. They were charged with causing the deaths of 25 patients under the racketeering law. The remaining 12 individuals, including the other co-owner of the business, were charged with fraud and selling contaminated drugs across state lines, among other associated crimes.

While there are always risks involved when a patient is given a medication, the patient must be made fully aware of those risks before the medication is given. If a pharmaceutical company provides contaminated medication and a patient falls ill as a result, the patient may be eligible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the company. The damages that a patient may seek depend upon the severity of the illness or injury they suffered. This may include compensation for medical bills and pain and suffering, among other damages.

Source: Boston.com, "14 charged in deadly 2012 meningitis outbreak", Denise Lavoie, December 17, 2014

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