U-M experts available to address meningitis, pharmaceutical regulations

October 9, 2012
Written By:
Laurel Thomas


ANN ARBOR—There are now more than 100 confirmed cases and eight deaths from a national outbreak of fungal meningitis linked to steroid injections, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. The steroid manufacturer, the New England Compounding Center, has issued a recall while health officials determine how many people may have received the injections for back pain. Nine states have reported cases and 23 received the recalled product.

While the University of Michigan Health System did not receive the medication implicated in the outbreak, its physicians and hospitals are ready to care for any patients who received injections at other locations. See more at http://umhealth.me/epi105. Members of the media may call (734) 764-2220 for updates on the UMHS response to the outbreak.

Experts from the U-M School of Public Health, College of Pharmacy, Ross School of Business and Health System are available to address various aspects of the health concern. They include:

John Clark can discuss his experience purchasing from compounding pharmacies as a result of drug shortages and recalls. Clark is a clinical assistant professor at the College of Pharmacy and the Pharmacy Residency Program Director at the U-M Hospitals and Health Centers. He can be reached at (734) 232-4882 or johnclar@umich.edu.

Alfred Franzblau, associate dean for research at the School of Public Health, can discuss how the fungus—which is common indoors and out—usually is not harmful but why it is in this situation. Franzblau, professor of environmental health sciences and associate professor of emergency medicine, works on the U-M Dioxin Exposure Study and is co-chair of the U-M Health Institutional Review Board. He can be reached at (734) 936-0758 or afranz@umich.edu.

Erik Gordon, clinical assistant professor at the Ross School of Business, can address many aspects of the pharmaceutical business, including regulation of compounding pharmacies. He is widely cited for his expertise in the biomedical industry (pharmaceuticals, devices and biotechnology), commenting on products like Lipitor and a generic for Wellbutrin XL, and the health of companies like Pfizer and Merck. He can be reached at (734) 764-5274 or rmegordo@umich.edu.

JoLynn Montgomery, assistant research scientist in epidemiology at the School of Public Health, specializes in diseases and how they spread, and has experience with emergency preparedness. She can offer insight into the difference with this form of meningitis, which does not spread, as well as the other forms that do. Montgomery headed the Michigan Center for Public Health Preparedness, where she trained state and local health department staff in epidemiology and disease surveillance. She founded the Public Health Action Support Team, and previously worked at the Michigan Department of Community Health, with HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, rabies, West Nile virus, anthrax and many other communicable diseases. She can be reached at (734) 763-2330 or jpmont@umich.edu.


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