Originally published in The Weekly Packet, October 25, 2012
BHMH pharmacist says hospital not affected by meningitis scare
by Faith DeAmbrose
While national news has widely disseminated information about a recent fungal meningitis outbreak allegedly caused by contaminated injectable medications from a compounding pharmacy in Framingham, Mass., the story hit a bit closer to home this week when the Maine Centers for Disease Control & Prevention issued a list of Maine hospitals that have received medications from the firm. Blue Hill Memorial Hospital is on that list, but according to pharmacist Kevin Dempsey, there is no need for concern.
According to Dempsey, BHMH landed on the CDC’s list because it does receive a product from the Massachusetts-based New England Compounding Center. And, even though the product—a topical numbing gel—technically does come in a syringe, the product is not injectable. Called Lidocaine Epinepherine Tetricaine, the gel is used prior to an IV needle stick or when something like “road rash” needs to be cleaned out, explained Dempsey.
“We have since talked to the CDC and cleared it up,” he said.
According to the CDC, 308 cases of fungal meningitis have been reported across 17 states since early October. Twenty-three of those cases have resulted in death. No cases have been reported in Maine.