Friday, October 12, 2012

First Lawsuit Comes Fast

In only about a month 14 meningitis deaths have been reported nationwide, 185 confirmed cases have been reported and the first lawsuit was filed Thursday in a federal court in Minnesota.

Nearly 14,000 patients have been injected with suspected tainted pain medication and the first lawsuit was filed by a woman who said she was given a steroid injection to relieve back pain and within two weeks had symptoms of fungal meningitis.

She didn't wait to get confirmation of her tests before she filed suit.

New England Compounding Center of Massachusetts is the suspected source of the contaminated pain medicine and has begun a recall of the unused steroids and has suspended operations. 

Late in the week it was reported that the same company was sued for selling a contaminated steroid  shot that killed a Rochester, NY man in 2004. The company reached an out-of-court settlement in 2007.

Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal has called for a criminal investigation of the Framingham, MA company.  The International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists say there may be as many as 3,000 companies in the U.S. mixing and dispensing steroid injection medicines.

The New England Compounding Center had shipped similar medications to 23 states and at least eleven of those states have reported fungal meningitis cases.

I was administered two similar steroid injections a year ago, as treatment for very painful sciatic nerve pain.  But the real reason I'm writing about this today is to ask a simple question, directed at owners and executives of companies that make anything that could hurt or kill their customers:

Why take the chance to cut corners, be careless or ignore the risk you impose on customers?

Having asked the question, unfortunately, I already know the answer.  Many people gamble every day; some in casinos, some in backroom  poker rooms, some on the highway, some with their businesses.  They know they can possibly make a lot of easy money.  If something goes wrong, what do they have to lose?  They can close down, hide their past profits, and if the plaintiffs cannot "find" those past profits, they can get away without paying anything.

Typically they wait a few months, change their business name and location and gamble some more.