Michigan charges pharmacists linked to 2012 meningitis outbreak

BOSTON (Reuters) – Michigan prosecutors on Friday filed second-degree murder charges against the co-founder and supervisory pharmacist of a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy linked to a deadly 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak, according to court records.

FILE PHOTO: Pharmacist Barry Cadden, co-founder of the now-defunct New England Compounding Center, arrives to be sentenced after being convicted for racketeering and fraud for his role in a 2012 meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people across the United States, in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., June 26, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

The state court charges came after federal juries in Boston convicted Barry Cadden and Glenn Chin of racketeering and fraud but cleared them of second-degree murder over deaths caused by tainted drugs New England Compounding Center produced.

The office of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, whose state was among the hardest hit during the outbreak, charged Cadden, NECC’s former president, and Chin, its onetime supervisory pharmacist, with 11 counts each of second-degree murder.

Schuette’s office brought the charges in Livingston County District Court, according to online court records. Representatives for Schuette did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday.

Bruce Singal, a lawyer for Cadden, said he was unaware of the new charges. A lawyer for Chin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The news was first reported by the Livingston Daily.

Cadden, 52, and Chin, 50, were among 14 people indicted in federal court in Boston in 2014 following a fungal meningitis outbreak that authorities say was caused by mold-tainted steroids produced by Framingham, Massachusetts-based NECC.

Those contaminated drugs sickened 793 people nationally, including more than 100 who have died, according to federal prosecutors.

Federal juries in 2017 convicted Cadden, a pharmacist who co-owned NECC, and Chin, who supervised the so-called clean rooms in which NECC made drugs, on racketeering and mail-fraud charges but cleared them of second-degree murder related to 25 patients’ deaths.

They were subsequently sentenced to nine and eight years in prison, respectively. Both men are now incarcerated and are appealing their convictions.

Last week, a co-owner and four former employees of NECC were convicted of fraud and other illegal activities that helped boost its business before the outbreak. Jurors acquitted a pharmacist tried alongside them. [L1N1YI14W]

Four of the other federal defendants have pleaded guilty. The trial of the two remaining defendants, both of whom were pharmacists, is scheduled for March.

Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Tom Brown

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