Trial concluding for
pharmacist charged in deadly U.S. meningitis outbreak
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[March 16, 2017] By
BOSTON (Reuters) - Closing arguments are
scheduled for Thursday in the trial of the co-founder of a now-defunct
Massachusetts pharmacy charged with murder and racketeering for his role
in a 2012 meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people across the United
Barry Cadden, 50, is the one of two former pharmacists at the New
England Compounding Center accused of second-degree murder in an
outbreak that sickened 751 people in 20 states. Prosecutors called
the outbreak the largest U.S. public health crisis involving a
During his two-month trial in Boston federal court, prosecutors
accused Cadden of directing the shipment of steroids often
prescribed for back pain that were tainted with fungal meningitis,
even though he knew they were made in unsanitary conditions at
NECC's Framingham, Massachusetts, facility.
Cadden has pleaded not guilty to 96 criminal counts, including 25
racketeering acts of second-degree murder. He could be sentenced to
life in prison if convicted.
The case led to strict regulations on compounding pharmacies, which
mix drugs but previously were treated with a lighter hand than
registered drug manufacturers. Inspections after the outbreak turned
up bugs, birds and other unsterile conditions at an NECC affiliate.
NECC filed for bankruptcy in 2014 and in 2015 it agreed to pay $200
million to victims and creditors, a sum that included funds seized
Prosecutors accused Cadden of prioritizing profits over patients,
earning millions of dollars without concern about who was using his
In total, NECC in 2012 sent out 17,600 vials of steroids called
methylprednisolone acetate contaminated with mold to 23 states, all
labeled to indicate they were sterile and all in bags carrying
Cadden's initials, prosecutors said.
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Defense lawyers did not dispute that people died after being
injected with the steroid but said Cadden had nothing to do with
They described the contamination as an isolated incident and said
NECC had shipped out 852,000 vials in the 6-1/2 years leading up the
outbreak without any deaths.
Supervisory pharmacist Glenn Chin also is accused of racketeering
acts of second-degree murder and will be tried separately.
Lesser charges were filed against 10 other people. Three have
pleaded guilty, including NECC's former majority owner and her
husband, who were accused of financial crimes related to the case.
A federal judge dismissed charges against two defendants in October.
Charges remain pending against the other five.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond; Editing by Scott Malone and Bill Trott)
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