Meningitis outbreak: Congress holding two hearings this week

Energy & Commerce Committee hearing set for Wednesday; HELP Committee hearing will be Thursday


Committees in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate have each scheduled a hearing this week related to the tragedy of the fungal meningitis outbreak.

The House Energy & Commerce Committee will hold a hearing, The Fungal Meningitis Outbreak: Could It Have Been Prevented?, on November 14 at 10:00 am. Scheduled witnesses include Joyce Lovelace, whose husband died as a result of the outbreak, on panel one; Barry J. Cadden, President, Co-Owner, and Director of Pharmacy, New England Compounding Center (NECC), on panel two; and Margaret A. Hamburg, MD, FDA Commissioner; and Lauren Smith, MD, MPH, Interim Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), on panel three. A subpoena was served to Cadden on November 6.

On November 15 at 10:00 am, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold its hearing, Pharmacy Compounding: Implications of the 2012 Meningitis Outbreak. Scheduled witnesses include Beth P. Bell, MD, MPH, Director, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, CDC; Hamburg of FDA; and Smith of MDPH on panel one; Cadden of NECC on panel two; and David G. Miller, BSPharm, Executive Vice President and CEO, International Academy of Compounding Pharmacy; and Kasey K. Thompson, PharmD, Vice President, Office of Policy, Planning, and Communications, American Society of Health-System Pharmacists on panel three.

As of November 9, CDC had confirmed 32 deaths and 438 cases in 19 states that were caused by fungal meningitis and other infections linked to the use of injectable steroids from three recalled lots of preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate distributed by NECC.

Pharmacists can watch the hearings on the Energy & Commerce Committee website and HELP Committee website linked to above. APhA will attend both hearings.