Meningitis outbreak that killed 64 draws murder charges

17 Dec 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »

14 Arrested In Deadly Meningitis Outbreak Linked To Framingham Pharmacy.

BOSTON Fourteen owners or employees of a Massachusetts pharmacy were charged Wednesday in connection with a 2012 meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people nationwide and was traced to tainted drug injections. Federal prosecutors accuse a founder and pharmacist for a contaminated Framingham pharmacy of killing 25 people and spreading a scourge of meningitis across the United States in 2012, according to a scathing indictment. Barry Cadden, a co-founder of the New England Compounding Center, and Glenn Adam Chin, a pharmacist who was in charge of the sterile room, were hit with the most serious charges, accused in a federal racketeering indictment of causing the deaths of patients in several states by “acting in wanton and willful disregard of the likelihood” that their actions would cause death or great bodily harm.

More than 750 people in 20 states were sickened and 64 died after they contracted fungal meningitis and other illnesses from tainted steroids made by the company. The others charged in an indictment unsealed Wednesday face charges ranging from mail fraud to the introduction of adulterated and misbranded drugs into interstate commerce. Chin, “acting in a manner inherently dangerous to human life so recklessly and wantonly as to manifest a mind utterly without regard for human life and social duty and deliberately bent on mischief,” killed Elwina Shaw with a contaminated dose of their steroid. In addition to Cadden and Chin, 14 people associated with NECC were indicted on a laundry list of charges including racketeering, conspiracy and mail fraud. Linda Nedroscik of Howell, Michigan, said her husband, John, survived the tainted injection but is still “not well.” She said the 64-year-old “still struggles, has nightmares,” but she’s grateful he’s “made it.” Linda Nedroscik said the family is “out a lot of money,” and they’ve been led to believe that there won’t be any financial recourse.

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 details how cleaning logs were falsified, expired ingredients were used with fictitious labels, and drugs weren’t recalled when microbes were found. “Production and profit were prioritized over safety,” said U.S. Among the accusations in the indictment are that Cadden, Chin and others used expired ingredients in drugs, failed to properly sterilize drugs and failed to test drugs to make sure they were sterile. The pharmacy gave up its licence and filed for bankruptcy protection after it was flooded with hundreds of lawsuits filed by victims and their families.

Attorney’s Office in Boston. (You can watch it live on CBS Boston.com) NECC is being investigated as the manufacturer of steroid shots contaminated with black mold that were distributed to medical facilities in at least 23 states exposing thousands of patients to fungal meningitis in the fall of 2012. (TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. Food and Drug Administration has cited numerous unsafe practices at the compounding pharmacy, which custom mixed medications and supplied them directly to hospitals and doctors. Regulators later found a host of potential contaminants at the company’s Framingham plant, including standing water, mold, water droplets and dirty equipment. For 27 weeks beginning in January 2012, the company’s own tests showed bacteria and mold in the “Clean Room” where drugs were produced, according to the indictment. Gregory Conigliaro, another co-founder, was among the 14 arrested at their homes around the state, U.S. attorney’s office spokeswoman Christina DiIorio-Sterling said.

Detective William McGrath said Cadden was “dressed and ready to go” and showed no reaction to the fact that he was being taken into custody. “It was very low-key,” he said of the arrest. Sean James, head of the Southboro Police Department detectives unit, said officers were at his home at 6:10 a.m. “He met us at the door,” James said. “He was very cooperative.” The couple are alleged to have been directors at NECC involved in the pharmacy’s day-to-day operations. Kimberly Dougherty, an attorney with the firm Janet, Jenner & Suggs that is representing more than 100 victims nationwide, said the charges bring some measure of relief to her clients, some of whom are still seeing doctors and suffering from the effects of tainted medications.

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