Lawmakers press feds for funding for meningitis victims

Keith Laing
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — A bipartisan group of 18 House of Representatives members are pressing the Obama administration for compensation for victims of a fungal meningitis outbreak in 2012.

The lawmakers said in a letter to the Office of Management and Budget, which moved recently to block the funding from the Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program, that the agency should “reverse this harmful action.”

Patients in 23 states, including Michigan, were given contaminated steroid injections that were distributed by the New England Compounding Center. It resulted in 778 cases of fungal infections and 76 deaths, the letter said. Among the charges 14 people face are 25 counts of second-degree murder in the Great Lakes state and Tennessee, Indiana, Virginia, Maryland, Florida and North Carolina.

“We firmly believe that 25 counts of second-degree murder ... spanning seven states, is an act of mass violence,” the lawmakers wrote.

The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Federal Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said patients who received injections distributed by NECC “should remain vigilant for the signs and symptoms of infection, and contact their health care provider if they are concerned.”

The representatives said the Obama administration should do more for the victims.

“Children have lost their mothers and fathers, parents have buried their sons and daughters, and the lives of hundreds of families have been irretrievably altered,” they wrote. “They have come to the federal government seeking justice.”

The letter was signed by Michigan Reps. Mike Bishop, R-Rochester; Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph; Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township; Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls; John Moolenaar, R-Midland; Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland; Tim Walberg, R-Tipton; Dave Trott, R-Birmingham; Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn; and Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township.

Other signatories include Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.; Larry Bucshon, R-Ind.; Jackie Walorski, R-Ind.; Jim Cooper, D-Tenn.; Erik Paulsen, R-Minn.; Tim Murphy, R-Pa.; Tom Emmer, R-Minn.; and Diane Black, R-Tenn.

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Twitter: @Keith_Laing