CASCADE, Mich. (WOOD) - Tim Tromp has gotten spinal injections for back problems for the past two years. He told 24 Hour News 8 he "never" thought twice about it -- until a recent outbreak of fungal meningitis.
"I trust my doctor," Tromp told 24 Hour News 8. "I figured if I was going into a doctor at a pain consultant clinic then everything would be fine. He's a good man and he would tell me if I had any risk, but ... maybe he doesn't know, either."
He admitted this "makes me nervous" and "made me not want to have a back injection."
He said he plans to ask his doctor many questions at his next visit coming up in two weeks.
More than 100 people have been infected with a potentially deadly strain of meningitis after getting spinal steroid shots, with 22 infections in Michigan. A specific injectable steroid mixture created by the New England Compounding Center has been identified as the source.
Four places in Michigan received the recalled steroids. The closest to West Michigan is in Traverse City.
The mixture was somehow tainted with a fungus, and infected some patients with aspergillus meningitis.
David Miller's Keystone Pharmacy in Grand Rapids makes about 25,000 compound prescriptions each year -- about half of all the business they do.
"It's a tragedy," Miller said of the meningitis outbreak.
He said one life lost is one too many.
Though no one knows what exactly happened at the Massachusetts-based New England Compounding Center, Miller showed the steps taken locally to make sure their sterile prescriptions stay sterile.
"There are some compounding pharmacies out there that don't put the effort into process control and quality control that they should," said Miller. "The most important thing I would look for in a compounding pharmacy is accreditation."
Miller pointed out every step to the actual mixing is regulated -- the kind of drugs, the prescriptions, the pharmacy itself -- but the final product is not.
"The finished compound is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration," he said. "That is what people are crying for now. ... The FDA would like us to submit new drug applications for everything we do, and that's about a $300 million process."
He's hoping this outbreak leads to more accreditation in the compound pharmacy field.
"I can assure you (this outbreak is) going to rewrite the rules book for all of us."
Miller stressed patients ask their doctor if they have any question about an injection or any prescription and make sure their medications come from an accredited pharmacy.
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