Victim says meningitis outbreak destroyed family


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 USA meningitis outbreak in 2012.

Prosecutors plan to ask US District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns to sentence Cadden, the former co-owner and head pharmacist, to 35 years in federal prison for focusing on profits and not the proper operation of the once-highly profitable speciality pharmacy that he owned 17.5 percent of. Cadden's legal team had asked for two-and-a-half to three years.

Investigators linked the cases to the New England Compounding Center, housed inside a squat brick building in Framingham, Mass., and said there were untested and nonsterile drugs as well as expired ingredients.

Barry Cadden, who once ran the New England Compounding Center, was found guilty of conspiracy and fraud charges in March.

"Barry Cadden put profits over patients", said Acting U.S. Attorney William D. Weinreb for the District of MA in a statement.

A prosecutor says 20 victims who were sickened and relatives of people who died will give victim impact statements before Cadden is sentenced Monday.

Victims include Penny Laperriere, whose husband Lyn died after receiving a steroid shot. By October 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counted 753 cases of illness and 64 deaths; in court here on Monday, prosecutors said the death toll was even higher: 76. Federal prosecutors say 12 more people have died since then, raising the total to 76.

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Cadden said the outbreak, which killed more than 60 people and sicked more than 700, was a tragedy but not a crime. Indiana, Michigan and Tennessee were hit the hardest.

The scandal prompted increased scrutiny of compounding pharmacies, which differ from ordinary drugstores in that they custom-mix medications and supply them directly to hospitals and doctors. Congress passed new federal regulations, but experts said they made key provisions voluntary, meaning the prevention of another outbreak can not be assured.

The US Attorney's Office for MA said Cadden authorized the shipping of drugs that weren't confirmed to be sterile and used expired ingredients.

Cadden's lawyer pointed the finger at Glenn Chin, a supervisory pharmacist who ran the clean rooms where drugs were made. Chin, who has pleaded not guilty, is scheduled to go on trial in September.

NECC filed for bankruptcy after getting slapped with hundreds of lawsuits. Mr. Cadden had been convicted this spring on federal racketeering and fraud charges related to the outbreak, which experts have described as among the worst medicine-related public health crises in recent times.

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