Pharmaceutical

Former NECC pharmacist arrested on criminal charges stemming from fungal meningitis outbreak

syringe Former NECC pharmacist arrested on criminal charges stemming from fungal meningitis outbreakA man was arrested last week as part of an ongoing investigation into the deadly fungal meningitis outbreak linked to a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy by the Justice Department’s Civil Division and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts.

Glenn Adam Chin was attempting to board a plane to Hong Kong when federal authorities arrested him on one count of mail fraud. According to the Department of Justice, the maximum sentence under the statute is 20 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch launched the investigation into New England Compounding Center (NECC) after federal officials tied contaminated steroid shots produced by the pharmacy to at least 751 fungal infections, including fungal meningitis. At least 64 people died during the outbreak. About 18,000 tainted shots were distributed to medical facilities in 23 states in 2012, and an estimated 14,000 people were exposed to the fungus.

NECC ended up recalling all its sterile products, closing the pharmacy, and filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Hundreds of lawsuits were filed by victims. In July, NECC owners agreed to pay $100 million to settle claims against the pharmacy.

Chin was a supervising pharmacist at NECC, and was involved in the compounding of the steroid shots in question, known as preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate, or MPA. The criminal complaint alleges Chin of participated in a scheme to fraudulently cause one lot of MPA to be labeled as injectable, meaning it was sterile and fit for human use, and shipping it to one of NECC’s customers –Michigan Pan Specialists, according to the Department of Justice. Doctors at that clinic, believing the shots to be sterile as the package stated, injected the shots into patients. As a result, 217 of the patients who received the shots developed fungal meningitis, and 15 of those patients died.

The U.S. Attorney’s investigation is ongoing, however federal authorities charged and arrested Chin this week after learning that he had planned to leave the country on an international flight.

Source: USDOJ