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Florida Health Officials Scramble to Find Other Drugs From NECC

Contaminated steroid injections for back pain may not be the sole source of infection sent out from New England Compounding Center, health officials say.

While the Florida Department of Health says it has notified 99 percent of all the patients in Florida who received the back injections, they now are concerned about products produced by the NECC.

"The processes that led to the contamination of steroids may have led to the contamination of other NECC medications," Armstrong said.

"The FDA has urged all patients, who since May 21 2012, have received any NECC injectable medications that they be notified of the possibility of infection."

This includes steroids used in eye surgery and heart operations. Health officials say these injectable drugs were distributed in Florida but they're having a difficult time determining exactly where they went.

"There have been challenges getting this information from NECC and we share this challenge with every other state in the country," Armstrong says.

The outbreak began with three contaminated lots of an injectable steroid used in epidural back injections. Armstrong says it has progressed to 12 additional medications used for injections.

 The Florida Department of Health said Tuesday that at least 78 health care facilities in the state received injectable medications from the Massachusetts company.

Two more cases of fungal meningitis in Florida

Two women in their 70's--one from Ocala and one from Pensacola-- contracted the illness after getting steroid shots in the back that were contaminated.

Nationwide, the number of cases of fungal meningitis related to contaminated steroid injections is 215, with 15 deaths across 15 states.  Florida accounts for 12 cases and two deaths.

This type of meningitis is not contagious.

--Health News Florida, journalism for a healthy state, is a service of WUSF Public Media.


Sarah Pusateri is a former multimedia health policy reporter for Health News Florida, a project of WUSF. The Buffalo New York native most recently worked as a health reporter for Healthystate.org, a two year grant-funded project at WUSF. There, she co-produced an Emmy Award winning documentary called Uniform Betrayal: Rape in the Military.