December 21, 2012

Mass. pharmacy linked to outbreak aims to pay its victims

Steroids from the New England Compounding Center are blamed for 39 deaths and 620 illnesses from fungal meningitis.

The Associated Press

BOSTON – A pharmacy connected to a deadly nationwide meningitis outbreak filed for bankruptcy protection on Friday and said it was seeking to set up a fund to pay victims.

Contaminated steroid injections from the New England Compounding Center have been blamed for 39 deaths and 620 illnesses since the outbreak began over the summer. The Chapter 11 filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court shields the company from the threat of creditor lawsuits while it reorganizes its finances.

The company said in its filing 130 lawsuits have been filed against it, and 270 other people have claimed injury from the tainted drugs.

The NECC, based in Framingham, just west of Boston, said it's seeking to establish a compensation fund through the Chapter 11 filing.

New England Compounding Center was founded in 2006 by brothers-in-law Barry Cadden, the company's chief pharmacist, and Gregory Conigliaro. Compounding pharmacies custom-mix medications in doses or in forms that generally aren't commercially available.

In early October, the company issued a nationwide recall of the steroid and ceased operations. Later that month, Massachusetts moved to permanently revoke the company's pharmacy license after inspectors found unsterile conditions at its Framingham facilities.

State officials charged the company with violating its state license, which permitted it to make drugs for individual patients with specific subscriptions. Instead, officials say, the company made large batches of drugs for broad distribution.


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