Earlier in the week, we updated you on the pharmaceutical compounder that has been linked to a deadly strain of fungal meningitis. With over 300 people reporting infections in 16 states, including New York, this batch of dangerous drugs is causing considerable injury. In our last post, we also mentioned that it is extremely rare for federal or state regulatory bodies to take any kind of real action against pharmaceutical compounders, even when they consistently put out tainted or otherwise dangerous medicines.
One of the most illustrative of examples happened in 2009. A group of polo players had arrived to compete at the U.S. Open Polo Championship when 21 of their horses died after receiving veterinary medicine from a single pharmaceutical compounder. The compounds were produced by Franck's Pharmacy and had been incorrectly mixed, producing a fatal drug cocktail. What is particularly shocking, however, is that this compounder also made human medicines.
This horrible mistake happened nearly four years ago, but the owners of the horses are still trying to recover the $4 million in damages they sustained in a lawsuit. Though the federal Food and Drug Administration also filed a lawsuit against the compounder, the court found that it had been operating within the law and that the FDA could not insist that the pharmacy needed its approval before resuming manufacturing. Unfortunately, the state board only fined and reprimanded the company, allowing it to remain in business.
Two years later, in November 2011, Franck's was again in the news after it was linked to a fungal infection of the eye. The pharmaceutical company had made a dye used in eye surgery that was causing infection and loss of vision. In total, 33 people reported an eye infection and 75 percent of them had problems with their vision. It was only when these eye infection lawsuits started appearing that Franck went out of business.
Taking a dangerous drug can have an untold number of effects, anything from mild irritation to death. Fortunately, there are still some options available to injured patients, including working with lawyers to file product liability and personal injury lawsuits.
Source: USA Today, "Harsh punishments rare for drug compounding mistakes," Peter Eisler, Nov. 1, 2012