by CHRISTINE ABRAHAM Photographer
Thirty-two people are left dead following a recent meningitis outbreak across the country. The outbreak is tied to contaminated steriod shots for back pains from The New England Compunding Center of Framingham, Ma, a specialty pharmacy. The soiled shots also caused 438 non-fatal cases. Test results showed three kinds of fungus, most being a form of mold. Out of the 14,000 people that took the contaminated shot, 12,000 people were infected. Severe headache, nausea, dizzines, and fever are all symptoms of meningitis. In some cases, some people suffered strokes. Between one to four weeks after taking the injection, people started showing symptoms. “They need to fix the situation much quicker because it could get worse before it gets better.” said sophmore Alexa Sumergido. Two more drugs were investigated from The New England Compounding Center, U.S. health officials say. U.S. Republican lawmakers accused federal health regulators for failing to prevent the fatal and deadly outbreak by not acting fast enough to shut down the compounding center. “After a tragedy like this, the first question we all ask is: could this have been prevented?” said U.S. Representative Cliff Stearns of Florida. “The answer here appears to be yes.” Investigators are still trying to figure out why regulators did not take action against the Framingham, Massachusetts compounding pharmacy that manufactured the contaminated drug. Drug compounding is a practice where pharmacists recombine drugs to make specific drugs for special patients, usually examined by state authorities. In a few cases, compounding evolved to include large-scale production that experts view as drug manufacturing that should be subjected to FDA regulation. In 2002 and 2003, FDA and Massachusetts officals inspected NECC’s labs after patients were infected with meningitis symptoms. They identified contamination in the same drug causing the current outbreak. “Ten years later, we are in the midst of an unthinkable, worst-case scenario – the body count is growing day – and hundreds, hundreds – have fallen ill. Inexcusable,” said Fred Upton, the full committee’s Republican chairman.