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Steroid injections and meningitis

Posted Oct 15 2012 10:03pm

Steroid injections are routinely used at our Center for the treatment of cluster headaches and occipital neuralgia. I just received a call from a concerned patient with cluster headaches who recently received an occipital nerve block with methylprednisolone acetate (Depo-Medrol), the same drug that caused fungal meningitis in almost 200 patients, of whom 14 died. His cluster headaches stopped after the injection and he had no symptoms of meningitis, but understandably he was still concerned. All of the patients who contracted meningitis were given epidural injections which are given for low back or neck pain with medicine deposited near the meninges or soft covering that envelopes the spinal cord. All of them received a tainted product manufactured by a compounding pharmacy, which was not licensed to mass produce such medications. Their product was significantly cheaper than the same medicine produced by the largest pharmaceutical company in the world, Pfizer. We have never used any other products except for the one made by Pfizer. I an addition to methylprednisolone (Depo-Medrol) some doctors use a different steroid, triamcinolone, which is manufactured by Brystol Myers Squibb under the name Kenalog. Whenever you receive a steroid injection for back pain, joint inflammation, cluster headaches, or any other indication, ask the doctor if the steroid you are going to receive was manufactured by a major pharmaceutical company. In case of epidural steroid injections, you should also question if these injections are really necessary because they have never been proven to be effective in the first place and even pure untainted products have been associated with spinal cord damage and other serious side effects.

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