US seeks stiff sentence for pharmacist in 2012 meningitis outbreak

Barry Cadden will be sentenced Monday on charges of racketeering, conspiracy and fraud in the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak that killed more than 60 people and sickened more than 700 others in 20 states.

Cadden was one of 14 people tied to Framingham, Massachusetts-based New England Compounding Center indicted in 2014 following the outbreak.

Prosecutors said Cadden, the compounding center's head pharmacist, ran the company as a criminal enterprise, selling substandard and non-sterile drugs produced in filthy conditions to medical facilities nationwide. Cadden's lawyer is arguing for a maximum of three years. Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Strachan said the centre was "a massive reckless and fraudulent organization".

They said Cadden directed the shipment of 17,600 vials of contaminated steroids often prescribed for back pain despite knowing they were made in unsafe conditions, leading to the outbreak. Indiana, Michigan and Tennessee were hit hardest.

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That includes 76 people who died, prosecutors said.

The case focused attention on compounding pharmacies, which differ from ordinary drugstores in that they custom-mix medications and supply them directly to hospitals and doctors. Cadden also used expired ingredients in the creation of drugs and allowed unlicensed pharmacy technicians to work on drugs, according to prosecutors.

His lawyers counter that prosecutors are seeking to demonize Cadden, who they said was not convicted of knowing the drugs were contaminated, just of misrepresenting how they were made.

NECC filed for bankruptcy after getting slapped with hundreds of lawsuits. Chin has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go on trial in September.

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