Roanoke, VA - A Roanoke law firm has now filed eight new lawsuits in the meningitis outbreak that allege Roanoke's Insight Imaging Center intentionally injected patients with a drug those patients didn't know they were getting.
The first was filed Thursday in Roanoke Circuit Court on behalf of Douglas Wingate, who died in September from the infection. Seven more were filed Friday with and additional seven more being prepared.
The lawsuit filed on behalf of Wingate's estate is asking for $25 million dollars.
This new round of lawsuits should not be confused with the dozens of federal lawsuits already filed against the New England Compounding Center. The new set is being filed at the state level charging specifically that Insight Imaging of Roanoke intentionally put profits ahead of patients by going around safeguards that could have prevented the outbreak in the Roanoke area.
This week has brought new allegations surrounding the deadly meningitis outbreak that if proven true, could literally shake the all so important trust that patients have with their medical providers across the board.
"Even though the health care provider I'm treating with I trust, I want to know more now because of this. And that's the travesty: The destruction of trust in our health care system that cases like this cause," said Tony Russell.
Russell is one of the lawyers who represents nearly two dozen Virginians who have now begun filing the state lawsuits.
The crux of the allegations is simple: Hundreds of patients were told they were receiving the FDA approved steroid Depo-Medrol (methylprednisolone acetate,) which wasn't the case at all.
"What they received was medication from a facility located right next to a garbage and waste facility, which has horrified these people to think what was injected into their spine," said Russell.
Russell believes had the outbreak not occurred, those patients likely would never have known.
Even the billing from Insight Imaging to insurers lists the FDA number for the prescribed drug and not the administered one, which left patients with no way to truly identify what they were being injected with.
It also left insurers out of the loop which Russell says may have stopped the outbreak before it started.
"That code would have likely raised a red flag with insurance companies like Anthem because Anthem doesn't approve of medications like this, from these types of compounding facilities because of the danger associated with them," he said.
Friday, seven additional lawsuits were filed and another seven or so more are being prepared.
ABC 13 tried to reach out to Insight Imaging's parent company in California but did not get a call back. Representatives from the US Attorney's office were also not available to comment on any potential criminal issues that could arise in this case.