Pharmacy head to be sentenced in deadly meningitis outbreak

Barsaba Taglieri
Giugno 27, 2017

A former MA pharmacy executive was sentenced to nine years in prison on Monday after being convicted of racketeering and fraud charges for his role in a deadly US meningitis outbreak in 2012.

Prosecutors had asked U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns to sentence Barry Cadden, 50, the co-founder and former president of the now-defunct New England Compounding Center, to at least 35 years in prison.

Cadden was charged in a 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak that was traced to contaminated injections of medical steroids made by the New England Compounding Center in Framingham.

Barry Cadden, the pharmacy co-owner found responsible for the deaths of 76 people in a national meningitis outbreak, was sentenced to nine years in prison on Monday, far less than the victims had wanted. Cadden's lawyer says he should get 2 1/2 to 3 years. Despite the defense claims, "the evidence overwhelmingly demonstrated that Cadden was well-aware of these deficiencies in NECC's production processes, and the potential danger it could cause to patients, but chose to ship the deficient drugs anyway", Assistant U.S. Attorney George Varghese wrote in the government's sentencing memo. "He can sentence him to nearly nothing, up until decades and decades of time in a federal penitentiary", said Elikann.

"His actions have caused my life to be shattered and my family so much pain", said Rachelle Shuff, of Elkhart, Indiana, who received steroid shots for back pain while trying to recover from serious injuries she received in a auto accident.

Victims include Penny Laperriere, whose husband Lyn died after receiving a steroid shot.

"Who gave him the right to play God?" the MI woman said. It added that Cadden's facility did not comply with cleaning, sterilization and other safety regulations - and that many who worked there, from its owners to pharmacists, actively lied about it.

The situation unfolded as a slow-motion disaster, first with a few unusual meningitis cases that soon piled up - particularly in Michigan, Tennessee and Indiana. He died in 2012. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 64 of those patients in nine states died, making it the largest public health crisis ever caused by a pharmaceutical product.

The case focused attention on compounding pharmacies, which differ from ordinary drugstores in that they custom-mix medications and supply them directly to hospitals and doctors. "Under his direction, employees assured customers that they were getting safe drugs, while Cadden ignored grave environmental failures, used expired active ingredients, and took innumerable other production shortcuts that led to numerous, entirely preventable deaths". NECC and several related companies reached a $200 million settlement with victims and their families. Chin has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go on trial in September.

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