(Reuters) — The U.S. Justice Dept. subpoenaed 2 more manufacturers of medical scopes linked to deadly “superbug” outbreaks in recent weeks, USA Today reported, citing 2 sources familiar with the investigation.
Last week, reports revealed 1 duodenoscope manufacturer, Olympus (TYO:7733), was being investigated by the federal agency, but the broader reach of the investigation, including subpoenas to other makers Fujifilm Holdings (TSE:4901) and Hoya Corp.‘s (TYO:7741) Pentax subsidiary has not been reported previously, the newspaper said.
Reuters was not able to immediately reach Olympus, Fujifilm and Pentax for comment.
The complex design of these devices – flexible tubes that are threaded through the mouth, throat and stomach to drain fluids from blocked pancreatic and biliary ducts – is associated with a risk of multidrug-resistant infections even when cleaning instructions are followed correctly.
Duodenoscopes have been associated with episodic infections for more than a decade, but those infections could often be treated with antibiotics. However, the rising tide of antibiotic-resistant bacteria or superbugs, are making these infections more dangerous and difficult to treat.
Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle, which suffered 1 of the largest and deadliest outbreaks of superbug infections linked with contaminated scopes, has also been subpoenaed, said Rando Wick, a lawyer representing the hospital.
The Justice Dept. has asked for “thousands of documents” related to healthcare offenses as defined in federal criminal statutes, he told Reuters.
In recent months, Virginia Mason Medical and others have sued Olympus in connection with bacterial outbreaks associated with its duodenoscopes.
The subpoena pertains to the medical center’s communication with Olympus, the FDA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, as well as state and local government authorities, Wick added.