Massachusetts Pharmacy Owners Arrested in Meningitis Deaths

17 Dec 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »

Massachusetts Pharmacy Owners Arrested in Meningitis Deaths.

Fourteen officials, pharmacists and technicians tied to the Massachusetts company involved in a 2012 meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people were indicted by a federal grand jury on racketeering and conspiracy charges. BOSTON (AP) — A co-owner and a pharmacist at a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy blamed for a 2012 deadly meningitis outbreak face charges of racketeering for allegedly causing the deaths of patients who received tainted steroids manufactured by the company, federal officials said Wednesday. The New England Compounding Center’s tainted drugs, including a steroid administered by spinal injection to treat pain, infected more than 700 people in 20 states, U.S. officials have said. Among those arrested were three members of the family whose business empire included the pharmacy — Gregory, Douglas and Carla Conigliaro — and Barry Cadden, a brother-in-law, who was also an owner. The outbreak was caused by sloppy clean-room practices, including a routine failure to properly sterilize drugs, according to the indictment unsealed in Boston today.

They were taken into custody in their homes before sunrise on Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the United States attorney’s office said, Christina DiIorio-Sterling, said. NECC’s facilities were in “deplorable” physical condition when they were probed by state and federal health investigators after the outbreak, according to related complaints against the company filed by victims and families. Authorities found contaminated vials of medicine, dirty surfaces and equipment in supposedly “clean rooms” where medicine was prepared, incorrect room temperatures, leaky boilers and air contaminants, according to court papers.

The exact charges are expected to be disclosed at a news conference later Wednesday, and all expected to make an initial court appearance later in the day. The indictment also names Glenn Adam Chin, 46, the head pharmacist of the company, who was arrested in September at Logan International Airport in Boston as he was about to board a flight to Hong Kong.

Those indicted include Barry Cadden, NECC’s former president and lead pharmacist, and Gene Svirskiy, a supervising pharmacist in one of the clean rooms where drugs were prepared. The 73-page indictment outlines in the greatest detail yet the alleged derelictions behind the outbreak, including a repeated failure to use an autoclave for the time needed to complete sterilization. The contamination caused an uproar and prompted new legislation about compounding pharmacies, which make specialized formulations of drugs for patients with particular needs.

Over the years, such companies have grown into mass manufacturers distributing medicine all over the country, virtually unregulated by the federal government. The family later branched into pharmaceuticals, riding changes in the health care landscape to become a major supplier of tailor-made drugs to hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices across the nation.

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