Pharmacy owners arrested in ’12 meningitis outbreak

17 Dec 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »

14 Arrested in Meningitis Deaths Linked to New England Compounding Center.

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.Fourteen officials, pharmacists and technicians tied to the Massachusetts company involved in a deadly U.S. meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people were indicted by a grand jury on racketeering and conspiracy charges. 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, are accused in a federal indictment of “acting in wanton and willful disregard of the likelihood ” that their actions would cause death or great bodily harm, officials said.

Among those arrested were the two founders of the company, Gregory Conigliaro and Barry Cadden, who were both taken into custody this morning at their homes in Massachusetts, the spokeswoman, Christina DiIorio-Sterling, told The Associated Press. The 2012 outbreak led to calls by Congress for greater federal oversight of compounding pharmacies, which provide health-care companies with tailored drug mixtures that aren’t commercially available. The specific charges are expected to be disclosed later at a news conference, and all the defendants were expected to make an initial court appearance on Wednesday.

The center’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. US Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s office has set an 11 a.m. press conference to detail the allegations against those under arrest and to describe its long-running investigation. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that about 750 people contracted fungal meningitis or related diseases from the tainted drugs. 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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