A $50 million lawsuit has been filed by the family of a local woman who died from meningitis after being injected with a tainted drug provided by a Massachusetts pharmaceutical company.
“These aren’t just lawsuits. These are people’s lives,” said attorney Michael Galligan in filing the suit in Nashville Circuit Court on behalf of Bertrum Walker Bryant Jr., for his late wife Margaret Rhea Bryant.
Mrs. Bryant died at 74 on Sept. 18 at St. Thomas Hospital where she was under treatment for a mysterious illness which befell her shortly after receiving an injection from the tainted pharmaceutical. The drug, methylprednisolone acetate (an injectable steroid), was reportedly not FDA approved and was used to treat back pain.
“She suffered tremendous pain and suffering and died an untimely and premature death,” the lawsuit against New England Compounding Center reads. “Bertrum Bryant watched his wife suffer and die and has experienced tremendous mental anguish.”
The retired Carrier employee who had long been a member here of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary and the Eastern Star, is one of 21 people who have died nationwide from a rare form of fungal meningitis. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 271 people have been infected in 16 states with eight deaths reported in Tennessee.
The distributor has placed a recall on the drug as a result of the outbreak. Galligan said Mrs. Bryant was injected from one of the tainted lots that has since been recalled.
The injection was made at St. Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center in Nashville. At the time of her injection, the fungus had not been discovered. She was not immediately diagnosed as suffering from meningitis despite being deathly ill for an extended period.
Galligan pointed out that compounding agencies such as the New England Compounding Center were not subject to having to be FDA approved. Instead, they are licensed by individual states. Tennessee revoked NECC’s license last week as a result of the eight deaths in Tennessee alone.
Galligan maintains NECC “put its bottom line and profit above the safety and welfare of its patients” in releasing the drug contaminated with the deadly pathogen.
“The company should suffer the consequences,” Galligan said. “There is no way this will be able to return Mr. Bryant’s wife of 42 years to him.”
The suit is one of the first of what is expected to be many filed against NECC.