Chairman Fred Upton, Commerce Committee Investigate Deadly Meningitis Outbreak

Dear Friend:

Our deepest sympathies and prayers are with the families here in Michigan and across the country who have lost loved ones or have had their lives endangered because of the recent outbreak of fungal meningitis.

Be assured that as Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee – which has broad jurisdiction over health-related issues – I am focused on uncovering the details of this outbreak, finding out what went wrong, and working to prevent another event of this nature.

Federal officials have linked the deadly outbreak to a contaminated injectable steroid compounded and distributed by the New England Compounding Center (NECC) of Framingham, Massachusetts. The suspected steroid medication was shipped to four facilities in Michigan: Michigan Neurosurgical Institute in Grand Blanc, Michigan Pain Specialists in Brighton, Neuromuscular & Rehabilitation in Traverse City, and Southeast Michigan Surgical Hospital in Warren.

Of the 14,000 patients injected with the drug product, 247 have been sickened and at least 19 have died as of this afternoon according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At that time, Michigan was among 15 states reporting illness, accounting for 47 cases and three deaths. Among those recently killed was a woman from Cassopolis who contracted the disease from shots received at an outpatient care center in Elkhart, Indiana.

The CDC reports that this form of meningitis is not contagious and advises that patients who feel ill or are concerned that they may have been a recipient of the NECC steroid should contact their healthcare provider immediately. For more information on the outbreak, please visit the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov

Our committee has been in contact with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concerning the outbreak since Friday, October 5th. Last week, I joined leaders of our committee in requesting briefings and materials from the CDC, the FDA, the NECC, and the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Pharmacy.

As this situation continues to unfold, our committee will remain tireless in its investigation to ensure the public health is protected. 

Sincerely,

Fred Upton
Member of Congress