WILKES-BARRE – A local health care system has stopped using all products purchased from the vendor identified by the state Department of Health as the provider of contaminated steroid solutions linked to cases of an unusual type of fungal meningitis in 10 other states.
"Our hospital did not receive any of the contaminated steroid solution prepared by the New England Compounding Center. In an abundance of caution, we have stopped using and sequestered all products from this vendor," said Jim McGuire, senior marketing associate for Wyoming Valley Health Care System, which owns Wilkes-Barre General Hospital. "Patients who have received lumbar epidural steroid injections at our hospital did not receive the tainted medication."
McGuire said discontinuing the use of all medications prepared by NECC "is a prudent step based on the expert recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."
According to a release from the Department of Health, two pain clinics in western Pennsylvania have used the medication from the Massachusetts pharmacy, but no cases of meningitis have been detected in Pennsylvania.
In a statement issued Wednesday, Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center said "the product in question has never been used at GWV" or at the Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre pain clinic. "Additionally, GWV does not utilize any products from the New England Compounding Center," the statement read.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the New England Compounding Company recalled the steroid that was sent to clinics in 23 states, and later recalled all of its products. The company said there is no indication that other products have been contaminated.
Kathaleen Gillis, spokeswoman from the Department of Health in Harrisburg, said no illnesses related to any medications produced by NECC have been identified in Pennsylvania.
"To date, only the three lots of methylprednisolone acetate have been linked to illness in other states. This medication was only received by two clinics in PA, and all patients who received injections with these lots have been contacted and no illness has been recognized," Gillis said.
The disease outbreak has been linked to three separate lots of the drug used for treatment of chronic pain, usually involving injection into an area around the spinal cord. The lots in question were shipped to 23 states over the last several months.
The outbreak has sickened 137 people in 10 states. Twelve have died.
The latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists:
• 12 deaths
• 137 reported illnesses
• 10 states: Ohio, New Jersey, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.