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Pharmaceutical error in meningitis outbreak signals future lawsuits

It's hard to miss the headlines about the deadly meningitis outbreak. More details continue to unfold about the pharmacy that issued the tainted steroids and the death toll is also rising. The story affects New Yorks and patients across the country. Twenty-three people are now dead and over 300 are sick with the strain of fungal meningitis from the steroids.

Medication errors like this cannot be ignored. Sadly, there may have been many red lights regarding the pharmacy. The pharmacy slid by many health regulators and evaded punishment for many years. Problems date back to 1999, only one year after opening.

Problems cited include distributions of blank prescriptions and inadequate sterilization controls. But for some reason, health officials did not issue the harshest sanctions against the company and instead recommended formal reprimands.

There are also concerns that the compounding facility did not receive enough federal oversight. But all may not be lost. Families and patients suffering from this drug error may be able to receive compensation through a lawsuit against the company.

A Minnesota woman is the first to bring a claim against the pharmaceutical company. She was contacted by the Minnesota Department of Health that she might have received the contaminated steroids.

Patients who are injured or killed because of the negligence of any medical personnel, including a pharmacy, may have a cause of action and can recover damages. The major pharmaceutical error and broad coverage area in this case likely means that the Minnesota lawsuit isn't the last of its kind.

Source: New York Daily News, "Before deadly meningitis outbreak, pharmacy avoided sanctions several times," Oct. 23, 2012

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