Owners of Compounding Pharmacy Linked to Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Face Murder Charges
Former employees and the owners of the New England Compounding Center (NECC), the compounding pharmacy responsible for the huge fungal meningitis outbreak in 2012, now face criminal charges including murder.
On Wednesday, December 17th, indictments were unsealed that accuse two former pharmacists at the compounding pharmacy of second-degree murder. The fungal meningitis outbreak made 751 patients sick, and killed 64 people.
Twelve other pharmacists who worked at NECC were indicted on lesser criminal charges.
“As alleged in the indictment, these employees knew they were producing their medication in an unsafe manner and in insanitary conditions, and authorized it to be shipped out anyway, with fatal results,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.
“Actions like the ones alleged in this case display not only a reckless disregard for health and safety regulations, but also an extreme and appalling indifference to human life,” Holder continued. “American consumers have a right to know that their medications are safe to use, and this case proves that the Department of Justice will always stand resolute to ensure that right, to protect the American people, and to hold wrongdoers accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
Federal prosecutors plan to ask for life in prison for former NECC owner Barry Cadden, and head pharmacist Glenn Chin.
“Production and profit were prioritized over safety,” U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said at a Boston press conference announcing a 131-count indictment. She described the compounding pharmacy as having “filthy conditions” and the labs as “thoroughly contaminated.”
The fungal meningitis outbreak was so severe that the federal government created legislation to help the FDA regulate compounding pharmacies, which had been exempt from several regulations because the pharmacies were supposed to make individual drugs, rather than manufacture large batches like other pharmaceutical companies. However, compounding pharmacies found a loophole that allowed them to manufacture “specialized” drugs in large enough batches to sicken hundreds of patients, and the lack of oversight from the FDA or other regulatory agency led to the multistate fungal meningitis outbreak.
The murder allegations tie into federal RICO charges. The compounding pharmacy is accused of using its status as a small, individual-drug manufacturing facility to skirt federal regulations called “GMP,” or “good manufacturing practices.” This led to the fungal meningitis outbreak as a lack of oversight allowed particulate matter to enter vials of steroid drugs meant to be injected directly into the spinal cord.
Earlier in December, a proposal was filed in federal bankruptcy court to distribute $135 million to people who have personal injury or death claims related to the fungal meningitis outbreak. So far, 3,500 people have filed for bankruptcy due to medical and funeral expenses.
The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Your Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Personal Injury Claim
If you or a loved one have been injured, harmed, or killed by a medical product such as a drug or device, from medical device manufacturers or compounding pharmacies, you may be entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit. Defective medical devices and dangerous drugs can hurt you to such a great extent that you are unable to work, with mounting medical bills The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help get you the compensation you deserve, to get you through these tough times. We are licensed to practice across South Carolina, Georgia, and New York. To help you with your case, we offer free, confidential consultations. Do not hesitate to contact us. 803.252.4800