|Vials of the steroid distributed by New England Compounding Center (NECC) - implicated in a meningitis outbreak - are pictured in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters October 14, 2012. The outbreak has killed 15 people and put 14,000 at risk of contracting meningitis. (REUTERS/Minnesota Department of Health/Handout)
Two other drugs made by the Massachusetts pharmacy at the center of a deadly meningitis outbreak may be linked to the disease, U.S. health regulators said on Monday, potentially widening the scope of the health crisis.
The Food and Drug Administration said it was looking into reports of a patient with possible meningitis who received an injection of a different steroid than the one found to have caused 15 deaths. It also said two transplant patients were infected with the rare fungus linked to the meningitis outbreak after receiving a heart drug also made by the New England Compounding Center (NECC) of Framingham, Massachusetts.
Nine more people have been diagnosed with fungal meningitis linked to possibly tainted vials of the injected steroid methylprednisolone, bringing the total number of cases to 212, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The patient identified by the FDA as potentially having meningitis received an injection of the steroid triamcinolone, also supplied by NECC.
The FDA said its investigation of that patient and the two who received the heart drug during surgery was ongoing and cautioned that any injectable drugs made by NECC, including those intended for use in eyes, are of “significant concern.”
The meningitis outbreak expanded to 15 states on Monday as Pennsylvania reported its first case.
The Pennsylvania patient, who received the epidural steroid injection in July, was being treated in a hospital, the Pennsylvania Department of Health said.