The New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts, which has been linked to a deadly fungal meningitis outbreak that has killed 39 people and left 620 patients sick, recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. According to the Huffington Post, although NECC claims it will seek to set up a fund to compensate victims and their families, it’s unlikely that the affected patients and families will get due compensation because of the high number of claimants.
Dozens of people have sued NECC after the pharmacy’s steroid injections were linked to the development of fungal meningitis. At least 50 federal lawsuits have been filed in nine states, and although not all patients have developed meningitis, many have gotten sick after receiving injections. As more lawsuits are filed every day, it seems unlikely that NECC will be able to repay families for the death of spouses, physically painful recoveries, lost wages, and mental and emotional suffering.
Dennis O’Brien, who developed fungal meningitis after a series of steroid injections in his neck, is suing NECC to cover out-of-pocket expenses and his wife’s lost wages. Denis is often hooked up to an IV, has received three spinal taps, and has bruises on his body from injections and blood tests. His wife, Kaye, drives him six hours weekly to visit the hospital, and although they’ve filed a lawsuit seeking $4 million in damages, it could take years for the couple to see the money, and they may never get enough to cover their expenses.
NECC has filed bankruptcy to “assemble a substantial relief fund,” according to their press release. However, John Day, a Nashville attorney who represents several patients who have been sickened by fungal meningitis, explains that even though NECC has insurance, the company is still determining what the policy covers. Day emphasizes that “at the end of the day, NECC is not going to have sufficient assets to compensate any of these people, not even one percent.”
Many attorneys may seek compensation from other parties such as NECC co-founder Barry Cadden, sister company Ameridose and Medical Sales Management. Additionally, doctors, hospitals, manufacturers and people that injected the drugs could also be sued as the number of lawsuits increases. Federal litigation is slow, and it could take months or years before patients see compensation for their medical expenses and emotional suffering. O’Brien, who used to be a school teacher, is grateful that he survived but explains, “I don’t have a life anymore. My life is a meningitis life.”