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Jury selection begins for trial of employees of peanut processing plant at center of deadly Salmonella outbreak

Jury selection is underway for the trial of three people, employees and associates with a peanut processing plant blamed for the deadliest Salmonella outbreak in U.S. history, which killed nine people and sickened more than 700 in 2009. Former Peanut Company of America owner Stewart Parnell, his brother and food broker Michael Parnell, and the peanut plant’s quality control manager Mary Wilkerson were indicted last year on 76 criminal counts that allege the three shipped peanuts contaminated with Salmonella to industrial food customers – including nursing homes, schools and food suppliers – and covered up lab tests that showed some batches ... Read More

College student sues meat packing plant after E. Coli poisoning

Kalamazoo college student Rachel Tamminga is suing a meat packing plant after hamburgers she consumed at two local restaurants landed her in the hospital for six days. The meat was linked to a recall of 1.8 million pounds of ground beef processed by Wolverine Packing Co. in Detroit due to E. Coli contamination. The affected ground beef was sold to restaurants in four states – Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio. The recall was later extended to the rest of the U.S. after it was determined that the meat was shipped to distributors who may have sold it to individuals. At ... Read More

Psychiatric side effects of anti-malaria drug may be used to sway jury in soldier sentencing

The attorney for a U.S. soldier who killed 16 Afghan civilians in 2012 says his client took an anti-malaria medication used for years by the U.S. military before carrying out the mass murder. The drug has been linked to psychiatric problems that could serve as a defense for U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales during a sentencing hearing next month, during which jurors will decide whether Bales should receive a life sentence without the possibility of parole or be eligible for consideration to be released from prison. Mefloquine is a drug used to prevent malaria or treat mild to moderate ... Read More

UAB research team to study long-term effects of fungal meningitis outbreak

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will study cases of fungal meningitis and infections in patients who received contaminated steroid shots last year from a compounding pharmacy to determine the long-term effects of the infections that have sickened more than 740 people and killed 55. “These infections are extremely rare. No one has ever seen anything quite like this,” Dr. Peter Pappas with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) told The Tennessean. The CDC is negotiating a one-source contract with UAB’s Mycoses Study Group led by Pappas, concluding that it is the only group qualified to conduct ... Read More

Mother crushed by fallen airport sign still unaware her son was killed in accident

The mother who was injured by a falling 300-pound arrival-departure sign at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport is still unaware that the accident killed one of her sons and seriously injured two other sons. She remains in a Birmingham hospital where she had surgery for broken ankles and a crushed pelvis, but she is still in intensive care and unconscious. The Bresette family was returning home to Overland Park, Kan., after spending spring break in Destin, Fla., when during a layover in Birmingham the large sign fell onto Heather Bresette and three of her seven children. Luke, the middle child, was killed. ... Read More

Child killed, family injured when flight status board falls at Birmingham airport

A 10-year-old boy was killed Friday and three members of his family seriously injured when a heavy flight-status board fell on them at the Birmingham, Ala., airport. The family was trapped under the sign, which airport officials estimated weighs between 300-400 pounds, when it came loose from its moorings on the wall and dropped on them. Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport officials are not sure at this time what caused the arrivals-departure status board to fall. The family was trapped for several minutes before airport employees could lift the board off them, Birmingham Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Donald Jones told FOX6 ... Read More

Mass. shuts down 11 pharmacies in wake of fungal meningitis outbreak

Massachusetts health inspectors have issued cease-and-desist orders on 11 compounding pharmacies and cited 21 others for minor deficiencies following a deadly outbreak of fungal meningitis linked to contaminated steroid shots made by New England Compounding Center (NECC), a Massachusetts specialty pharmacy. The shutdown orders and citations were issued after unannounced inspections of 40 pharmacies across the state. Compounding pharmacies custom-mix FDA-approved drug ingredients based on doctors’ prescriptions for individual patients. However some specialty pharmacies, like NECC, mass produce custom drugs and distribute them across state lines. Drug companies are regulated by the FDA and must undergo routine inspections, but the ... Read More

Attorneys seek to freeze assets of owners of compounding pharmacy blamed for meningitis outbreak

The compounding pharmacy blamed for mixing and distributing contaminated steroid shots that have killed dozens of people and sickened hundreds more paid out more than $70 million to company insiders since 2006, attorneys for creditors of the pharmacy said. The disclosure was made at a U.S. Bankruptcy Court hearing during which the creditors’ attorneys argued that creditors should be allowed to seek to freeze the assets of the pharmacy’s owners. New England Compounding Center (NECC) paid its four owners or companies they owned $70.5 million during the past six years. The motion was granted and a hearing is currently underway ... Read More

Compounding pharmacy blaming tainted steroid shots on cleaning service

New England Compounding Center (NECC), the specialty pharmacy a the center of the multistate fungal meningitis outbreak that has sickened more than 650 people and killed 39, is hoping to pass blame for the contaminated steroid shots it mixed on its cleaning service. Attorneys for NECC have sent a letter to UniFirst Corp., demanding that it take legal responsibility for claims against the pharmacy. UniFirst acknowledges that one of its subsidiaries helped clean portions of the pharmacy’s cleanroom where drug cocktails were mixed to doctors’ orders, but says its services were limited and that it could not be held liable ... Read More

Pharmacy responsible for fungal meningitis outbreak files for bankruptcy

New England Compounding Center (NECC), the compounding pharmacy at the center of the deadly multistate fungal meningitis outbreak that has infected 620 people and killed 39 has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The filing shields the company from the threat of creditor lawsuits while it establishes a fund to pay its victims. NECC stated in its chapter 11 filing that 130 lawsuits have been filed against the company and 270 other people have claimed injury from drugs made by NECC. “The sheer volume and wide geographic distribution of cases bring the prospect of chaotic, conflicting and value-destroying pretrial orders and ... Read More