Massachusetts Pharmacy Owners Arrested in Meningitis Deaths

(The New York Times:  Published 12/17/2014, Bidgood, Jess, and Tavernise, Sabrina, Web)

Fourteen employees of a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy were charged Wednesday in connection with a fungal meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people in several states, the United States attorney’s office in Boston said.  Among those arrested were three members of the family whose business empire included the pharmacy — Gregory, Douglas and Carla Conigliaro — and Barry Cadden, a brother-in-law, who was also an owner. They were taken into custody in their homes before sunrise on Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the United States attorney’s office, Christina DiIorio-Sterling, said.  The charges are contained in a 131-count indictment and include 25 predicate acts of second-degree murder. It includes counts of racketeering, conspiracy and mail fraud.

The indictment also names Glenn Adam Chin, 46, the head pharmacist of the company.  The arrests signal the beginning of criminal proceedings against the New England Compounding Center, whose contaminated drugs led to the deaths in the fall of 2012, the authorities say. More than 680 people were sickened.

The contamination caused an uproar and prompted new legislation about compounding pharmacies, which make specialized formulations of drugs for patients with particular needs. Over the years, such companies have grown into mass manufacturers distributing medicine all over the country, virtually unregulated by the federal government.  The charges filed against Mr. Chin, described in a criminal complaint provided by the United States attorney’s office, accuse him of fraudulently labeling drugs as injectable and shipping them to a pain clinic in Michigan, where 217 patients eventually contracted fungal meningitis and 15 died.

Medication errors can be serious, permanent and even fatal.  The lawyers at Liever, Hyman & Potter, P.C., have been representing clients in injury and death cases for more than 50 years in Berks County and Schuylkill County and throughout Eastern and Central Pennsylvania.

From the desk of Adam K. Levin, Esquire

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