Suits filed in South Jersey over meningitis-tainted injections

    Two South Jersey residents say they were sickened by medication linked to the deadly outbreak of fungal meningitis and are suing for damages.

    The two separate suits filed Tuesday (see full text here and here) sketch out a similar story.

    The 45-year-olds from Cumberland County went to the same Vineland, N.J. clinic on separate days in September.

    They both received steroid injections to ease back pain.

    Following the injections, they claim to have suffered fevers, severe headaches and even slurred speech.

    They were later told the steroids were from New England Compounding Center (NECC) batches contaminated with potentially deadly fungal meningitis.

    The diagnosis

    “They may get worse, they may get better, they may stay the same,” said Michael Barrett, the lawyer representing both patients. “None of us know at this point. Their physicians don’t know.”

    The two plaintiffs — Jennifer L. Marko of Millville and Brian T. Pennington of Vineland — have not been diagnosed with meningitis and are not in the hospital, according to Barrett.

    But, he says they are not out of the woods yet either.

    “The fear and concern is that the incubation period is still running and that they may in fact have fungal meningitis,” said Barrett, who would not specify the amount in damages his clients are seeking.

    Both NECC and the local clinic are named as defendants.

    The lawsuits are likely on the leading edge of an onslaught of litigation against the Massachusetts-based pharmacy.

    New Jersey health officials have linked 10 fungal meningitis cases to the tainted medication. Marko and Pennington are not counted among those, according to Barrett.

    Nationwide, the outbreak has sickened more than 200 and killed at least 15.

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