Special grand jury to look into meningitis deaths in Michigan

Apr 19, 2013

MPRN's Rick Pluta reports:

The Michigan Court of Appeals will seat a special grand jury to look into fungal meningitis deaths and injuries linked to a compound made by Massachusetts pharmaceutical company.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette requested the grand jury to investigate how tainted steroids made by the New England Compounding Center came to be sold in Michigan.

Michigan was hit hardest by the nationwide spread of the tainted steroid injections.

On a list that was last updated on April 8, the CDC shows 733 tainted steroid injection cases nationwide (including 53 deaths). Michigan accounts for 259 of those cases (including 15 deaths). This list was last updated on April 8. More deaths have occurred since then.

The following is a statement from Attorney General Schuette:

"Hundreds of Michigan citizens and their families have endured terrible pain and deaths of loved ones suffering from illnesses caused by these tainted steroid injections," said Schuette.  "This investigation is necessary uncover the truth as to how this unspeakable tragedy happened and to restore public faith in our healthcare system."

"We will discover what went wrong, bring bad actors to justice, and then work to implement new protections to ensure tragedies like this never happen again."

Michigan Radio's Kate Wells explored the questionable practices by some doctors in Michigan who injected their patients with the tainted steroids.

From her story:

Lawyer Alyson Oliver...argues that Michigan doctors share in the blame for this epidemic, precisely because they were ordering bulk shipments of medication from a compounding center – a definite regulatory no-no.

How much is “bulk?” The Brighton Pain Clinic was able to give out some 830 injections of the contaminated drugs over just two months, according to the company’s Web site.