Some South Dakotans are getting letters warning them they received medication produced at the same center that produced the steroids linked to a fungal meningitis outbreak.
While health officials do not believe any South Dakota facilities used the steroids involved in the outbreak, more than half a dozen hospitals and clinics in the state are being targeted in an expanded recall of the company's products.
The New England Compounding Center is at the center of an outbreak that's killed at least 25 people and sickened more than 350 others across the nation. FDA officials have linked contaminated steroids from the center to the cases of fungal meningitis.
While no facilities in South Dakota received those steroids, the South Dakota Department of Health has identified eight healthcare facilities in the state that did receive other medications from the NECC after May 21.
These facilities are now at the center of an expanded recall. Among them, three businesses in Rapid City: Black Hills Plastic Surgery, Black Hills Regional Eye Institute, and Black Hills Surgical Hospital. Two facilities in Sioux Falls are also on the list: Dakota Dermatology and LazaDerm Skincare Center. Siouxland Surgery Center in Dakota Dunes; Innovative Procedural Center in Watertown; and the Brookings Ambulatory Surgical Center are also listed.
The FDA is asking these facilities to contact any patient who received an injection or underwent an eye operation in which the NECC products involved in the expanded recall were used.
We contacted each of the facilities, but only one agreed to answer our questions in a taped interview.
"We've contacted patients who had those injections and none of those are experiencing any issues. With the injection in the eye, the symptoms would happen very quickly," Black Hills Regional Eye Institute Chief Financial Officer Jodi Anderson said.
Some of the patients who were administered the drugs are being sent letters about the recall.
We got an email on Tuesday from a man whose wife received a letter. But when we asked officials with the Department of Health about his concerns, they declined to do an on camera or telephone interview, saying only that patients should not be overly concerned.
"We've definitely been getting phone calls and concerns, so we've tried to individually work with each patient," Anderson said.
Again, no one in South Dakota has reported getting sick from any NECC drugs, and there is no indication that any other products, aside from the suspected steroids, have been contaminated.
Still, that news isn't necessarily calming fears of those who have received drugs from the troubled center.
We did call all six facilities on the phone on Tuesday. Some of them did not return our calls.
Others, such as Dakota Dermatology only had topical anesthetics from the company, which the FDA says is not as high of a risk as injectables.
Black Hills Plastic Surgery also says it luckily had not given any patients its product from the center before it was voluntarily recalled.