FDA discloses health facilities that did business with tainted pharmacy

Exserohilum Rostratum, the fungus that has spurred meningitis in patients injected with a tainted arthritis drug. Photo: U.S. Centers for Disease Control

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has disclosed the identities of more than 80 health care providers across New York City that purchased drugs from the pharmacy that is the origin of a compound linked to a national meningitis outbreak. State and federal health officials are urging providers to pull from use all drugs from the facility, New England Compounding Center, “out of an abundance of caution.”

A list released this week by the FDA included three medical offices in New York City — New York Surgery Center of Queens/Boulevard Surgical Center, Physio Logic Medicine, and New York Surgical and Anesthesia Suites, PC — that since late May have purchased the substance implicated in the outbreak, an injectable arthritis drug called methylprednisolone acetate, manufactured by New England Compounding Center.

There is no evidence yet that any patients have been infected in New York City or that the medicines purchased by the providers were contaminated, but the New York State Department of Health has joined the FDA in asking providers to follow up with patients who were injected with substances from the firm.

It is also asking patients to be vigilant for signs of infection and to contact their health care providers if they are concerned. Symptoms of meningitis include fever, headache, nausea and vomiting.

Brooklyn-based Physio Logic Medicine declined to comment. New York Surgical and Anesthesia Suites confirmed that it had been contacted by the FDA in connection with the investigation but did not provide further comment. The director of the New York Surgery Center of Queens declined to comment.

Last month federal investigators first identified the outbreak of meningitis — a potentially fatal bacterial infection of the brain and spinal cord — after cases popped up in different states and were connected to the Massachusetts drug manufacturer. The resulting investigation has found 338 cases of the infection nationally and 25 deaths tracked so far. Today, the FDA released an inspection report for the pharmacy detailing “greenish black foreign matter” found in vials of the drug.

New England Compounding Center voluntarily recalled all of its drugs earlier this month. Massachusetts state health officials are now working to revoke the company’s license.

So far, New York State has only experienced one case, but that hasn’t stopped the FDA and the state Department of Health from urging New York health providers to discard drugs from the facility.

“Every product from NECC has been recalled, and we suggest that any facility that purchased drugs from NECC to take them off the shelves,” said a spokesperson from the state Department of Health.

The FDA is currently investigating a second injectable medication for a possible link to the outbreak. Eleven providers in the city have purchased that drug, and two, Elmhurst and Queens hospital centers, are city Health and Hospitals Corporation public hospitals.

HHC spokesperson Evelyn Hernandez said, “‪I can tell you that we have not purchased any of the steroid preparation made by the New England Compounding Center that has been linked to fungal meningitis in other states.”

In total, 83 providers around the city purchased items from the New England Compounding Center since May 21, the date of manufacture for the drug lots implicated in the meningitis cases.

Methylprednisolone Acetate
The following New York City health care providers received the arthritis drug implicated in the national meningitis outbreak:

  • NY Surgical and Anesthesia Suites, Bronx
  • Physio Logic Medicine, Brooklyn
  • Boulevard Surgical Center, Queens

Triamcinolone Acetonide
The following New York City health care providers received a drug from New England Compounding Center now under investigation for a possible link to the the meningitis outbreak:

  • Mackool Eye Institute, Queens
  • Ambulatory Surgery Center of Greater New York, Bronx
  • New York Spine and Sport, Bronx
  • Platinum Wellness Center, Brooklyn
  • Elmhurst Hospital Center, Queens
  • Queens Hospital Center, Queens
  • Boulevard Surgical Center, Queens
  • Gramercy Park Podiatry, Manhattan
  • Retina Specialist, PC, Manhattan
  • Michael Nissen, MD, Manhattan
  • Staten Island Ophthamology

Download a complete list of New York City medical facilities that purchased drugs from New England Compounding Center.

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