The meningitis outbreaks that took place in October and November made headlines for much of the past month. Following the death of 32 people from the outbreaks, the FDA discovered a link between the meningitis cases and contaminated medications, primarily injectable drugs manufactured by the company Ameridose.
Following the link to Ameridose, the company recalled all of its products, causing many hospitals to worry about a shortage of supply of these medications, which are commonly given as shots or intravenous drips during surgery. One of these drugs formerly produced by Ameridose, sodium bicarbonate, is used in emergency care to return the acidity in a patient’s blood to normal levels. Another of the primary Ameridose drugs is succinylcholine, a medication used by anesthesiologists during surgery to temporarily paralyze neuromuscular functioning.
Soon after the recall of the drugs linked to the meningitis deaths, Ameridose announced the lay-off of hundreds of employees. This was caused by an on-site investigation by the FDA that found the company needed to make vast improvements to its sterility testing process.
By mid-November, the company had decided to remain closed for the rest of the year while the investigations by state and federal authorities continue. The reopening of the facility depends on whether further unsanitary conditions and questionable disinfectant practices are found.
The issue of drug shortages remains a concern, as the American Hospital Association declares in a Reuters article that “82 percent of hospitals said patients had experienced delays in treatment due to drug shortages”, with 50 percent of those hospitals saying the shortages prevented them from providing the proper treatment to patients in need.