December 17, 2014 — The New York Times reports that 14 employees of New England Compounding Center (NECC) have been arrested in connection with an outbreak of fungal meningitis that killed 64 people two years ago.
The arrests include Barry Cadden and Greg Conigliaro, who co-founded NECC in 1998. Cadden is married to Lisa Conigliaro, whose family owns a majority stake in the company. The family also own a recycling facility, which caught on fire and processed trash in a building adjacent to the pharmacy.
The pharmacist who was in charge of the sterile room, Glenn Adam Chin, was also arrested. Chin was previously arrested in September after attempting to board a flight to Hong Kong.
Everyone arrested is expected to make a court appearance today.
The most serious charges were filed against Cadden and Chin, who are accused of second-degree murder in 7 states. The 73-page indictment includes 25 counts of second-degree murder, racketeering, conspiracy, and mail fraud.
U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said the men acted with “extreme disregard for human life.” For example, the “clean rooms” where the drugs were manufactured failed to comply with the “most basic health standard,” and the logs showing when the room was disinfected were falsified. The indictment also cites examples when fake names were listed on prescriptions, like “Michael Jackson” and “Big Baby Jesus.”
Cadden was called before Congress in November 2012, but refused to testify. The federal indictment seeks forfeiture of Cadden’s massive estate in Wrentham, if he is convicted.
More than 750 people in 20 states developed fungal infections or had other life-threatening complications after receiving contaminated injections from NECC. The outbreak led to a regulatory overhaul of the entire compounding pharmacy industry, with stricter requirements for pharmacies that mass-produce injections and ship them out of state.
Since the outbreak, the FDA has done more than 175 inspections and issued dozens of warnings to compounding pharmacies throughout the country.