A 72-year-old Madison woman is suing the Massachusetts company who manufactured tainted drugs administered through epidural steroid injections.
Joan Peay told Nashville's News 2 she's asking the New England Compounding Center (NECC) to pay her $5 million dollars in damages, and whether the NECC is ever forced to pay or not, her life will never be the same.
Peay said it all started September 7, when she went in for a regular epidural steroid injection in her lower back to treat chronic pain.
Peay said she has undergone the procedure several times in the past.
A few weeks after Peay's visit to the Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center, on September 20, Peay noticed a unusual soreness in her tailbone, which she had not experienced before with previous injections.
By September 27, Peay told Nashville's News 2 the pain increased.
“I started having this terrible, just horrible lower back pain, especially in my spine and tailbone,” said Peay. “A killer headache and sometimes I'd just have chills and shake.”
It was painful enough, Peay ended up going to Saint Thomas Hospital, where she was diagnosed with fungal meningitis and spent the next two weeks in a hospital bed.
“I was sort of stunned,” said Peay. “I thought how can this happen?”
Peay added, a letter from the outpatient center did arrive in the mail warning about the fungal meningitis outbreak, but by that time, Peay was already diagnosed and in the hospital.
“I think she's lucky that she got to the hospital when she did, because I think had she not, the outcome could've been much different,” said Peay's attorney, Sidney Gilreath of Gilreath & Associates in Knoxville.
Although Peay is back at her home in Madison, she has to self-administer IV drugs to fight the infection twice a day for two hours at a time.
“It just catches up with you some days and you can't handle any more, but you have to, so you do,” said Peay adding, “I wish they'd just put me in a coma for six weeks and then I'd wake up and then it'd be over.”
Peay will also have to take other medication for months afterwards that could impact her liver function.
“I don't know how normal I'll be after this, to tell you the truth,” Peay told Nashville's News 2, who relied on her family and friends for support during these difficult past few weeks.
To the NECC, Peay said, “Shame on you. This negligence is unacceptable on any level.”
Gilreath added, “She and all the other victims in this have no other recourse than to file a law suit.”
Gilreath also told Nashville's News 2, “It's outrageous and it puts the safety of peoples' health in jeopardy, innocent people.”
Gilreath said the number of people wanting to file law suits against NECC increases by the day in his office.
The NECC has not yet filed a response to Peay's law suit.