In the past few days, it has been reported that dozens of people have been infected with a rare form of meningitis from contaminated steroids made and distributed by a pharmacy in Framingham, Massachusetts. Those same reports indicate that, unfortunately, we can expect to see more victims.
Federal investigators have found that the steroids at issue contained a “fungal contaminant.” While the steroids have been recalled by the company, and the recall appears to be growing, the drugs were apparently distributed to dozens of facilities in over 20 states. The contaminated steroids appear to be particularly dangerous because they are injected into the lower back, which may serve as a conduit for meningitis, an infection of the membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. The disease can result in serious illness, long-lasting injuries, and death. Five deaths have already been linked to the contaminated steroids, with many more infected.
Victims of contaminated drug products like these steroids have numerous possible avenues of legal recourse, including claims for negligence and products liability. The two kinds of claims are similar, but have important differences. A negligence claim requires a showing that the maker and/or distributor of the drug was careless in some fashion, thereby allowing a contaminated product to hit the market.
Even if carelessness and negligence cannot be shown, there may still be a strong claim for recovery. In many jurisdictions, including Massachusetts, the mere selling of a defective product, or a product containing unexpected ingredients that cause harm, will establish liability on the part of the maker or seller of the product. The theory behind this law is that a person selling any product must ensure that the product is fit for its intended use and not unreasonably dangerous. The focus of this kind of claim is a breach of a promise, or warranty, by the maker and seller that a product is safe. It almost goes without saying that the seller of a product with potentially deadly contaminants has breached that warranty, or promise.
Injury or death from a contaminated product, particularly a drug that has every indication to the consumer of being safe and sterile, is shocking and unfathomable. The law can do little to erase the tragedy. Particularly in this area, however, the law has strong protections for people who have been affected. They can and should seek legal recourse.
SUGARMAN’s experience in handling cases like this spans decades, and we stand ready to answer questions by or on behalf of victims. Please fill out a Contact Form, call us at (617) 542-1000 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.