Death toll rises to 14 in meningitis outbreak linked to Framingham company

The death toll has risen to 14 for the nationwide meningitis outbreak that has been linked to a Framingham company, federal health officials said today.

So far, 170 cases of fungal meningitis have been recorded in 11 states in the outbreak, according to data posted on the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Governor Deval Patrick on Wednesday accused New England Compounding Center, the company at the heart of the outbreak, of misleading regulators and operating outside its license by shipping large batches of drugs across the country, the Globe reported this morning.

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New England Compounding has shut down operations and recalled all its drugs, including three lots of methylprednisolone acetate the firm shipped to providers in 23 states. The CDC has said 13,000 patients received injections of the painkiller for lower back pain. Federal officials believe those lots may have been contaminated with at least two different types of fungus, which infected patients, traveling from the injection site near the spine to the brain, causing a serious and rare form of meningitis, the Globe reported.

The investigation of the outbreak expanded Wednesday, as public health officials made clear they are looking deeply into businesses owned by the same families that own New England Compounding, the Globe reported.