When Medical Malpractice Becomes Murder: Settlement, Charges Pending In Tainted Steroid Medication Scandal

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When Medical Malpractice Becomes Murder Settlement, Charges Pending In Tainted Steroid Medication Scandal (Article 5)The owner of a Massachusetts pharmaceutical company and his head pharmacists are facing 25 counts of murder across seven states after tainted steroids sold by the company caused 64 deaths and sickened hundreds of people across the country in 2012.

Barry Cadden, the owner of New England Compounding Center (NECC), and head pharmacist Glenn Adam Chin are two of fourteen people under a federal indictment accusing them of putting profit over safety, and knowingly and purposely selling contaminated medications across the country.

In 2012, over 800 people were sickened with fungal meningitis after taking medications produced by NECC. The medications were attributed to at least 64 deaths. The company is accused of fabricating records, ignoring federal drug laws, and purposefully producing medication under conditions which did not meet scientific safety standards.

According to the investigation into NECC, the company got around federal drug manufacturing laws by posing as a pharmacy which was simply filling orders for patients. However, its patient lists were fake, and the company created thousands of phony prescriptions to avoid being supervised by the FDA as a manufacturer.

In addition, the conditions where the drugs were created were disgusting and lacked even basic laboratory hygiene. NECC’s head pharmacist ignored the conditions, and purposefully cut corners to make more money. For example, when preparing a solution of injectable steroids, he purposefully ignored proper sterilization procedures in order to create more batches of steroids in less time. Rather than expose the steroids to heated, high pressure steam for at least 20 minutes—as sanitation regulations required—he only exposed the drugs for 15 minutes in order to create two extra batches in the same amount of time.

NECC also ignored the rules requiring the company to test its medications for contamination. Since there was little oversight to make sure the solutions were sterile and safe, a batch of 6,500 vials of steroids contaminated with fungal meningitis was able to leave the facility, and was shipped to hospitals and clinics around the country.

The vials were first shipped on June 8, 2012. By the end of September, people were getting sick with meningitis in Tennessee, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, and Virginia. The CDC and several state governments launched a full-scale investigation, which led directly back to NECC’s filthy manufacturing facility which was posing as a pharmacy.

After the source of the outbreak was traced, 14 people were charged in a 131-count indictment by the federal government as part of its racketeering case. Only Cadden and Chin were charged with murder.

NECC filed for bankruptcy protection two months after its pharmacy was shut down. The trustee of its bankruptcy case recently submitted a $135 million compensation plan, which will likely be used to compensate the company’s victims.

While manufacturing dangerous drugs is usually a civil offense, the behavior of Cadden and Chin was so depraved that it crossed the line into criminal actions. While the two will probably still face multiple civil lawsuits from the families of those injured or killed by their drugs, they will also spend the rest of their lives in a federal prison.

While not all pharmaceutical manufacturers actively ignore safety regulations while creating drugs or medical devices, many drug companies do cut corners or fail to warn patients about the potential dangers of their products. When a dangerous drug or a defective medical device unfairly injures a patient, he or she has the ability to file a lawsuit seeking damages for the company’s negligence.

At the Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq., we work to help the victims of defective medical products and fight to get them justice after an injury. If you were harmed by a defective product or a dangerous medication, we can help you file a lawsuit seeking damages for your injuries.

For a free consultation with a Los Angeles defective products lawyer, call (310) 289-2600 or use our online contact form to have your case reviewed today.

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