University received meningitis-linked drugs

Two Twin Cities Fairview clinics notified patients as a precaution.

Brian Arola

A University of Minnesota hospital was one of the 129 in Minnesota that received drugs from a Massachusetts company linked to a national meningitis outbreak, according to a revised list from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released Monday.

The FDA released the list of clinics that received potentially contaminated medicine from the New England Compounding Center, the company under investigation.

Two Twin Cities clinics, the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview and Fairview Southdale, were on the list of hospitals that received drugs from the NECC after May 21, 2012.

“They’re considering that the period of most concern,” said Buddy Ferguson, spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Health.

Nationwide there have been 317 illnesses connected to the contaminated medicine and 24 deaths.

About 250 Fairview patients total, all from Twin Cities locations, have been notified about the medications, said Ryan Davenport, spokesman for Fairview.

He said there haven’t been any reports of fungal meningitis so far, but Fairview wants its patients to be vigilant and aware of potential risks.

“We’ve sent letters out to the patient population and have given them some guidelines and things to watch for,” Davenport said.

The MDH had earlier reached out to the 129 clinics on the list to make sure they’re aware of the implications.

“What we’re doing is just contacting the providers to make sure that they’re aware of the latest FDA advisory and that they’re following up on it with their patients,” Ferguson said

The symptoms for fungal meningitis include a stiff neck, high fever and severe headaches, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention website.

The FDA advised Fairview to notify its patients about two medications: cardioplegic solution, a medication used during heart surgery, and acetylcysteine, an inhaled medicine used to treat patients with lung diseases like cystic fibrosis.

Davenport said the two Fairview clinics performed heart surgeries that used cardioplegic solution.

Acetylcysteine hasn’t been linked with any infections, but the FDA advised hospitals to notify patients as a precautionary measure, Davenport said.

About 50 acetylcysteine patients were notified, he said.