Maine Hospitals React to Meningitis Outbreak 

308 sick, 23 dead, those are the numbers from a national meningitis outbreak linked to steroids made at New England Compounding Center, a pharmaceutical factory in Massachusetts.So far, no one in Maine has died from the outbreak, even though more than 30 facilities in Maine received products from the pharmacy, but it has some health care providers in our state taking steps to calm patient fears. “No, the drugs used in the Meningitis outbreak we have not used at EMG,” said CEO Clement Berry, and that’s the message Eyecare Medical Group is wasting no time getting out to its patients. While the company’s CEO confirms it has purchased many types of drugs from New England compounds, none were the ‘steroids’ linked to the outbreak. “The minute the FDA published that there’s a concern about any drugs from New England compounding we actually pulled all of our drugs and quarentined them so they’re not used for any patients.” “…But it’s kept us really busy,” said Brian Marden, Senior Director of Pharmacy at Maine Medical Center. He says since news of the outbreak first hit October 5th, the hospital has received numerous calls from concerned patients. “We only had one patient receive a drug since May 21st that was a product of that compounding center. We’ve been in touch with that patient.” The FDA now recommends that all companies with drugs from New England Compounding contact patients as soon as possible to help alleviate any worries. “Staff here has done a chart review of the patients that we looked at and there’s probably over 1-thousand patients that we looked at,” said Berry, and each of those patients at Eyecare Medical Group will soon receive this letter assuring them none of their medications were connected to the outbreak. Still, as even more Meningitis cases are reported across the country, Maine Med’s top pharmacists suggests people need to be cautious. “Patients with headache, any fever, neck stiffness, those kind of things that are sort of related to potential Meningitis, that’s the biggest concern right now,” Marden commented.Massachusetts state investigators say preliminary findings indicate workers at New England Compounding failed to sterilize products properly.Federal authorities have launched a criminal investigation into the company’s practices.