With the recent outbreak of fungal meningitis being blamed on tainted steroids, reports are showing that this is not the first time. In 2002, five people became ill after receiving epidural injections of the steroid methylprednisolone, but this time contaminated with the fungus Exophiala. This outbreak is among 20 incidents since 1990 that include recalls, serious illness, and even death; all of which are linked to the behavior going on in compounding practices.
Around 14,000 people were given the tainted steroids, which were distributed to 24 different states. The compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts, the New England Compounding Center is the pharmacy responsible for the current outbreak of meningitis. Compounding pharmacies are not under the same restrictions and guidelines are regular pharmacies, so things like sterility can be over looked. The NECC made the steroids preservative-free, meaning there was nothing in the vials to kill any bacteria that could have gotten into them. When drugs are made without preservative they need to be made in extremely sterile environments.