Health systems alert patients

Published 10:28 pm Monday, October 22, 2012

Local health systems are reaching out to patients who have received injected drugs manufactured by a Massachusetts pharmacy under investigation for a national outbreak of infections linked to tainted drugs.

Bon Secours Virginia Health System and Sentara Healthcare are notifying patients of medications they received during recent treatment or surgery, according to a joint press release issued by the two organizations.

While neither system had any patient treated with the tainted steroids, the providers are notifying patients who have received any injected drugs manufactured by the same pharmacy between May 21 and Oct. 4 “out of an abundance of caution.”

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“Authorities say the risk is very low, and they do not believe that anyone will become ill because of these drugs,” states the press release.

The Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration have confirmed the presence of a fungus in unopened medication vials of a steroid used to treat pain and swelling associated with arthritis and other joint disorders. It is sometimes also used to treat other conditions such as blood disorders, allergies, certain cancers and others, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The local health organizations say that if a patient’s procedure occurred more than four weeks ago, it is unlikely there is any cause for concern. It is also unlikely there is a risk for meningitis unless the injection was near or on the spine or joint.

Virginia was one of more than a dozen states to receive the tainted drugs. The number of cases in Virginia stands at 41, third only to Tennessee’s 69 and Michigan’s 62.

If a patient received injected NECC drugs during a recent treatment or surgery and is experiencing symptoms such as fever, nausea, increased pain at incision, redness or drainage around incision, the health systems recommend the patient contact their physician immediately. Both health systems have established call centers to help answer questions or concerns. The numbers are below.

  • Bon Secours, 889-2273 (CARE)
  • Sentara 1-800-SENTARA (1-800-736-8272)

For more information on the outbreak, visit or