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Pharmacist in deadly U.S. meningitis outbreak resentenced to 10-1/2 years in prison


BOSTON (Reuters) – An ex-pharmacist at a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy whose mold-tainted drugs sparked a deadly fungal meningitis outbreak in 2012 has been resentenced to 10-1/2 years in prison after an appeals court tossed his earlier eight-year punishment.

Glenn Chin, the now-defunct New England Compounding Center’s supervisory pharmacist, was sentenced for a second time by U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns in Boston two weeks after co-founder Barry Cadden received a new prison term of 14-1/2 years.

Both men were separately convicted in 2017 of racketeering and fraud over misrepresentations to NECC customers about its drugs but were cleared of second-degree murder charges related to 25 patients’ deaths.

Prosecutors said those deaths stemmed from a fungal meningitis outbreak traced back to mold-tainted steroids that Framingham, Mass.-based NECC produced in filthy and unsafe conditions and sold to hospitals and clinics nationally.

The outbreak sickened 793 patients, more than 100 of whom died.

Prosecutors said Mr. Chin, while supervising the so-called clean rooms in which NECC’s drugs were made, directed staff to ship untested drugs, use expired ingredients, falsify cleaning logs and ignore mold and bacteria.

Mr. Chin, speaking from a jail cell, said he never intended for the contamination but had allowed for “shortcuts I knew were wrong.”

“I feel responsible for what happened because I made the drugs that made so many people terribly sick, including those who have died,” he said.

Judge Stearns originally sentenced Mr. Cadden, NECC’s co-owner and president, and Mr. Chin to nine and eight years, respectively, prompting a successful appeal by prosecutors who considered the penalties too lenient. Prosecutors had initially sought 35-year prison terms for both men.

Mr. Stearns on July 21 also ordered Mr. Chin to jointly with Mr. Cadden pay $82 million in restitution to their victims and forfeit $473,584 to the government.

Both men are now awaiting trial on separate second-degree murder charges in Michigan, which was hit hard by the outbreak.

Reuters Health Information © 2021

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