Tag Archives: meningitis

State senator/physician gets attention for injections, vote on compounding bill

A member of the Tennessee Senate was one of the doctors who injected patients with a spinal steroid at a Nashville outpatient clinic in the months immediately preceding a national fungal meningitis outbreak that took the lives of 16 Tennesseans.

Further from The Tennessean:

Sen. Steve Dickerson, R-Nashville, who is an anesthesiologist, administered injections of methylprednisolone acetate to several patients at the Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center a year ago, records obtained by The Tennessean show.

Months later, Dickerson voted in favor of a bill to ease Tennessee’s regulation of drug compounders. One such firm, the now-defunct New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts, is blamed for causing the outbreak by shipping fungus-tainted steroids to Tennessee and 22 other states.

Dickerson, through an aide, declined to respond to questions about his role at the clinic, which closed down voluntarily shortly before the outbreak became public. It has since reopened.

“As a practicing physician, and out of respect for the privacy of the patients involved locally and out of consideration for the patients involved nationwide, Dr. Dickerson cannot make any statements regarding the details of this matter that could distract from focusing on the well-being of the patients or regarding any of the legal claims against the NECC,” an aide wrote in an email response to questions.

Redacted patient treatment records obtained by The Tennessean show Dickerson was listed as the treating physician for two patients at the clinic in August and September of last year. The outpatient center shut down on Sept. 20, two days after a physician realized a possible link between her patient’s fungal meningitis and the steroid injections he had received at the clinic.
Dickerson has not been named as a defendant in any of the pending cases. The records do not indicate the source of the spinal steroid.

…Videotapes and other records show Dickerson was present and voted in favor of a bill passed earlier this year by the General Assembly that eliminates a requirement that pharmacists get a patient-specific prescription for every dose of a compounded drug.
The bill was approved on a unanimous 7-0 vote in late March by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, of which Dickerson is a member. It was approved 27-1 by the full Senate on April 4 and signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam on April 30. Dickerson was recorded as voting “yes” in the roll call.
While the measure had the support of the state pharmacists association, it drew criticism from advocacy groups.

Note: SB582 was sponsored by Sen. Ferrell Haile, R-Gallatin, and Rep. David Shepard, D-Dickson, both pharmacists. In brief Senate floor discussion, Haile declared the bill “has nothing to do with the situation that occurred out of Massachusetts that affected many of our people in Tennessee.” The legisltive website shows the Senate floor vote as 29-1 (with Sen. Todd Gardenhire casting the sole no vote). It passed the House 90-0.

UPDATE: The Tennessean reported Tuesday that Dickerson is named in court papers as the physician who injected a victim of the fungal meningitis outbreak with the tainted spinal steroid that led to her lengthy illness.

In a suit filed in U.S. District Court, attorneys for Joan M. Peay of Nashville wrote that Dr. Steven Dickerson, a member of the Tennessee Senate, was the one who injected her with the steroid. Dickerson, who is not named as a defendant in the case, injected Peay with contaminated methylprednisolone acetate on Sept. 7 of last year at the Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center, the 31-page complaint states.

Dickerson, a Nashville Republican serving his first term, has declined to respond to questions about his role at the neurosurgical center.

Note II: Betsy Phillips has thoughts upon the matter (basically, So What?)

Meningitis Vaccination Bill Goes to Gov

By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The mother of a Middle Tennessee State University freshman who died after contracting meningitis says she hopes legislation headed to the governor for his likely signature will prevent the deaths of other college students.
The measure would require incoming students at public higher education institutions to show proof they have gotten a meningitis shot. It passed the House 94-1 on Thursday and was unanimously approved by the Senate 30-0 earlier this month
“I know the bill is not going to bring my son back, but it will save someone’s life,” Shawna McIntosh said at a press conference after the bill passed the House. “I would suggest everyone get the vaccine.”
Jacob Nunley died last year less than 24 hours after contracting meningococcal meningitis, a bacterial infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.
Currently, MTSU and most other public colleges and universities in Tennessee only recommend getting the vaccination to prevent the contagious disease.

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Meningitis Bill, a Year Earlier, Might Have Saved a Life

By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Chris Wilson believes his nephew would still be alive if his college had required him to get a meningitis vaccination.
Middle Tennessee State University freshman Jacob Nunley died last year less than 24 hours after contracting meningococcal meningitis, a bacterial infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.
“That’s the most difficult thing to deal with,” Wilson said, “the fact that the vaccination was there. All he had to do was get it.”
Currently, MTSU and most other public colleges and universities in Tennessee only recommend getting the vaccination to prevent the contagious disease.
Tennessee lawmakers are hoping to prevent deaths with legislation that would require incoming students at public higher education institutions to show proof they have gotten a meningitis shot. The bill would exempt students if a doctor says they can’t take the vaccine because of a medical condition or if the inoculation violates their religious beliefs.

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Senate Approves Meningitis Vaccination Bill

Legislation requiring incoming students at the state’s colleges and universities to be have a vaccination for meningitis won unanimous approval of the Senate Monday night and now advances to the House, where approval is also expected.
The bill by Sen. Lowe Finney, D-Jackson, (SB93) is named in “the Jacob Nunley Act,” in honor of an 18-year-old Middle Tennessee State University student from Dyersburg who died of meningitis last year. It requires proof of vaccination to all students living on campus starting with incoming students next year, except for those who have a medical condition that make the vaccination dangerous or a religious belief that conflicts with vaccinations.
The House companion measure is expected to be approved by the House Education Committee today.

Health Comish: Meningitis Episode Preventable

By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The state is taking steps to make sure mistakes made at a Massachusetts-based compounding pharmacy blamed for a fatal meningitis outbreak don’t occur at similar centers in Tennessee, the state’s health commissioner said Wednesday.
John Dreyzehner told members of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee that what happened at the New England Compounding Center was preventable.
The outbreak, discovered in Tennessee in September, is linked to steroid injections from the center. Compounding pharmacies custom-mix medications in doses or in forms that generally aren’t commercially available.
“What happened in Massachusetts was tragic, but totally preventable,” Dreyzehner said.
In Tennessee, the commissioner said the number of people sickened by the outbreak is 147 with 14 deaths. Nationwide, 693 people have gotten sick and 45 people have been killed.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. Fungal meningitis is not contagious.
Dreyzehner said a task force formed by the state Board of Pharmacy has been discussing preventive measures, such as more regulation, and is expected to make recommendations at a hearing on Thursday.
He acknowledged that compounding pharmacy regulation is complex, but essential.
“We need to consider how to do these things more safely to make sure they don’t happen again,” he said.
Even though the fungal meningitis outbreak was discovered in Tennessee in September, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials say the earliest deaths tied to it date to July.
Health officials say as many as 14,000 people received the steroid shots, mostly for back pain. In early October, the company issued a nationwide recall of the steroid and ceased operations. Later that month, Massachusetts moved to permanently revoke the company’s pharmacy license after inspectors found unsterile conditions at its Framingham facilities.
State officials charge the company with violating its state license, which permitted the company to make drugs only for individual patients based on specific prescriptions. Instead, state officials say, the company made large batches of drugs for broad distribution.
Last month, a bankruptcy court judge froze the assets of the four owners of the company, clearing the way for creditors to determine what’s left of the millions the owners received from the firm.