Ex-employee of pharmacy in deadly 2012 meningitis outbreak gets prison


Ex-employee of pharmacy in deadly 2012 meningitis outbreak gets prison

By Nate Raymond

BOSTON, Dec 13 (Reuters) – A former employee of a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy whose mold-tainted drugs sparked a deadly nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak in 2012 was sentenced on Tuesday to five months in prison for deceiving regulators about its operations before the tragedy.

Sharon Carter, New England Compounding Center’s (NECC) former director of operations, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns in Boston after a federal appeals court last year reversed his decision to throw out her trial conviction.

She must also pay a $4,000 fine. Her lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.

Carter was among 14 people associated with the defunct Framingham, Massachusetts-based NECC who were indicted in 2014 after mold-tainted steroids it produced sickened 793 people nationally, including more than 100 who died.

The defendants included Barry Cadden, NECC’s ex-president, and Glenn Chin, its former supervisory pharmacist, who were convicted of racketeering and fraud and are serving prison sentences of 14-1/2 and 10-1/2 years, respectively.

Carter was not charged over the tainted drugs.

Prosecutors said she conspired with others to defraud the U.S. Food and Drug Administration before the outbreak by representing that NECC was like a typical pharmacy subject to state regulation and not like a drug manufacturer subject to tougher federal oversight.

Prosecutors said she in particular helped mislead the FDA into believing it was dispensing drugs pursuant to valid, patient-specific prescriptions like a conventional pharmacy when it actually distributing drugs in bulk.

A jury in 2018 found Carter guilty in a multi-defendant trial, but Stearns threw out the conviction against her and a co-defendant charged with the same offense, Gregory Conigliaro, a co-owner of NECC who was Cadden’s brother-in-law.

A federal appeals court restored their convictions last year, clearing the way for them to be sentenced. Conigliaro was sentenced on Dec. 1 to one year in prison.

Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston Editing by Bill Berkrot

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Source: Reuters