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A Columbus woman has filed a lawsuit against the maker of a tainted steroid that caused a fungal meningitis outbreak.
Law firms in Shelbyville and Logansport, working together on the case, filed a lawsuit Friday on behalf of Natalie S. Copass, 47, an assembly-line worker who is on disability for back pain.
The lawsuit claims that the Framingham, Mass.-based New England Compounding Pharmacy manufactured, sold and delivered a defective product.
Copass has not been formally diagnosed with fungal meningitis but began showing symptoms about two weeks ago, said Brady Rife, a lawyer with the Shelbyville firm McNeely Stephenson Thopy & Harrold, one of the two firms representing Copass. The other is the Logansport firm of Starr Austen & Miller.
Copass is seeking unspecified damages for present and future personal injuries, medical expenses, pain and suffering and emotional distress. She also has requested a jury trial.
Copass was unavailable for comment Friday because she was attending a funeral, Rife said.
“We’re concerned because the company that put out these tainted injections really hasn’t stepped forward to say ‘we made this mistake, put out a bad product and we’ll take care of these people,’” Rife said.
Copass received injections of the steroid at the Columbus-based Wellspring Pain Solutions Clinic, 2400 Park Lane, Suite 20, because she was seeking relief for her back problems. She was referred to Wellspring by her family physician.
She initially visited Wellspring on July 30. She received two injections July 31 at the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae of her spine and one at the first sacral vertebrae Aug. 22, according to the lawsuit.
Since receiving the injections, Copass “has experienced frequent, intermittent and migratory headaches, episodes of blurred vision and discomfort when lowering her chin to chest,” the lawsuit said.
Copass sought treatment and an evaluation for her symptoms from Dr. Drew Robertson of Wellspring on Oct. 11 and he told her that she had received three contaminated steroid injections, the lawsuit said.
Wellspring is among six Indiana clinics to have received the tainted medicine, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There have been 21 deaths nationwide attributed to the injections. Two are Indiana patients who died from fungal meningitis as a result of the injections, Ken Severson, spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Health, said Friday.
Severson said there have been 36 confirmed cases of fungal meningitis in Indiana related to the tainted steroid.
Deaths linked to the outbreak have occurred in 16 states — Indiana, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
Robertson said earlier this month that 309 patients, about one-fourth of Wellspring’s total number of regularly scheduled patients, were given shots from a tainted batch of methylprednisolone acetate — a common pain medicine — shipped from the specialty New England Compounding Center.
The shots were given for back or joint pain between July 1 and Sept. 28.
The Wellspring staff told The Republic it was conducting follow-up visits with all those patients to make sure they are exhibiting no signs of fungal meningitis: severe headaches, nausea, sensitivity to light, and severe neck stiffness.
Wellspring staff was again giving shots of methylprednisolone acetate from a different pharmacy by Oct. 9. Since that time, Wellspring attorneys have asked staff to stop speaking publicly about the matter. Calls to Wellspring on Friday afternoon were not returned.
The lawsuit has been assigned to Bartholomew Superior Court 1 and Judge Chris Monroe.
Republic reporter Brian Blair and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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