June 28, 2017

Pharmacy exec tied to deadly meningitis outbreak gets 9 years in prison

Daily Briefing

    A federal judge on Monday sentenced a pharmacy executive convicted of racketeering, mail fraud, and other crimes related to his ties to a deadly meningitis outbreak to nine years in prison plus three years of supervised release.

    Background

    A national meningitis outbreak in 2012 was linked to tainted steroid injections made by the now-closed New England Compounding Center (NECC). An estimated 14,000 people received the tainted injections, resulting in more than 700 illnesses and dozens of deaths. The outbreak resulted in new federal and state laws to strengthen regulations on compounding pharmacies.

    Fourteen former NECC employees have faced federal racketeering charges stemming from the outbreak. In addition, federal officials charged a former NECC co-owner and the company's head pharmacist, Barry Cadden, as well as another pharmacist who worked at NECC, with murder and other charges.

    A federal jury in March acquitted Cadden of second-degree murder. However, the jury convicted Cadden on charges of racketeering, mail fraud, and other crimes. Those convictions were based on allegations that Cadden had overseen the manufacturing and shipping of drugs that had not been properly tested but still were labeled as sterile, and as a result profited from defrauding patients and customers.

    According to Reuters, prosecutors in the case had asked U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns to sentence Cadden to 35 years in prison for the crimes for which he was convicted. Attorneys for Cadden had asked the judge to give Cadden no more than a three-year sentence.

    Individuals affected by outbreak react

    Individuals affected by the outbreak expressed disappointment over the amount of time to which Cadden was sentenced to serve.

    Dawn Elliot, a woman who was sickened by the tainted injections, called the sentence "a slap in the face" (Hawkins, "Morning Mix," Washington Post, 6/27; Raymond, Reuters, 6/26; AP/Modern Healthcare, 6/26; Bidgood, New York Times, 6/26).

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