Prosecutors Allege Cadden Carelessly Shipped Contaminated Injections
Barry Cadden, a co-founder and head pharmacist of a Framingham, Massachusetts, pharmacy, will be sentenced on next week on charges of racketeering, conspiracy and fraud related to a 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak that took the lives of more than 60 people. 750 others were made sick by the attack in 20 states after the pharmacy shipped out contaminated steroids. He could be facing up to 35 years in prison.
Prosecutors claim that Cadden’s actions represent “an unconscionable disregard for the lives of the patients”. They allege that Cadden cut corners with regard to sterility regulations in an effort to quickly increase production and make as much money as possible, and shipped out unsafe medication. Most of the victims received injectable steroids to treat back pain, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have linked the outbreak impacting these medical steroids manufactured by NECC, which has since shut down after filing for bankruptcy following hundreds of lawsuits. NECC and several related companies reached a $200 million settlement with victims and their families.
The steroid medication became contaminated with the deadly disease due to improper sterilization, testing, and cleaning prior to being shipped out. Following the outbreak, Congress increased federal oversight of compounding pharmacies, which custom-mix medications that are shipped directly to hospitals and physicians. But, the families of those already impacted are demanding justice.
Cadden’s attorneys have stated the prosecution is seeking to “transform the jury’s verdict into a murder case.” Cadden was already acquitted of second-degree murder charges. The defense admits that Cadden failed to properly supervise the “clean rooms” at the New England Compounding Center and he authorized the shipment of contaminated drugs before their cleanliness was confirmed, but did not maliciously or knowingly ship drugs contaminated with meningitis. They feel a two-and-a-half to three-year prison term is sufficient. “As the jury found, Mr. Cadden is not a murderer. Nor is he the person the government portrayed him as at trial,” attorney Bruce Singal stated. “It is a disgrace that he was charged with murder, it was unprovable, unwarranted and unjustified and we are deeply grateful that the jury saw it that way and vindicated Mr. Cadden on all 25 counts of the murder charges.” Cadden himself added of the whole ordeal, “How can they come in and inspect me? They don’t even know what they’re looking at. They have no clue.”
However, prosecutors say the defense’s arguments are bogus. “The evidence overwhelmingly demonstrated that Cadden was well aware of these deficiencies in NECC’s production processes, and the potential danger it could cause to patients, but chose to ship the deficient drugs away” they’ve stated, adding Cadden’s quest to line his pockets motivated him to turn a blind eye to clear violations. Cadden has also been said to have used expired ingredients in the creation of the drugs and allowed unlicensed technicians to work in the clean rooms. “Production and profit were prioritized over safety,” said Carmen Ortiz, former U.S. attorney for Massachusetts. Excerpts from victim impact statements were also included in the sentencing memo. Prosecutors are seeking the maximum sentence. Glenn Chin, a pharmacist who ran the clean rooms, is scheduled to go on trial in September. He has pleaded not guilty.