Meningitis Fallout: Mass. Officials Launch Surprise Investigations

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Health officials discover black fungus on vials used at NECC (Published Friday, Jan 17, 2014)

    (NECN: Justin Michaels, Framingham, Mass.) - The New England Compounding Center has been closed for several weeks, and after the startling revelations were recently announced, the company is likely to be closed for a long time to come, maybe forever.

    NECN has learned the vials of steroids, manufactured by the New England Compounding Center, had visible black fungus in the bottles when they were inspected by state investigators.

    These are the same vials responsible for infecting hundreds with meningitis.

    To date, 308 people have fallen ill, and 23 people have died, in 17 states.

    Click here for the corrected list of 3,000 NECC customers who bought products from the company.

    What investigators found when they first went into NECC is shocking, considering what was made here.

    "Mats used to wipe dirt, dust, and other possible contaminants off of shoes before entering sterile areas were visibly dirty, soiled with assorted debris," said Dr. Madeline Biondolillo of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

    Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and investigators from the state Department of Public Health brief the public Tuesday on the investigation, and the many problems at NECC.

    "You should know, if you don't already, that a federal criminal investigation has been launched," Gov. Patrick said.

    Some violations include failure to sterilize medications, and that drugs were shipped a week and a half before they were properly tested.

    "Investigators demonstrated that compounded medications ready for distribution were not labeled with patient specific identifiers as is required under mass. licensing regulations. With this violation NECC was operating beyond the scope of their computing license, instead acting as a manufacturer."

    The issues documented date back to 2002, when there were concerns about the very same steroid now at the center of the national meningitis crisis.

    In a statement, NECC's attorney wrote quote:

    "The board had numerous opportunities, including as recently as last summer, to make first hand observations of the NECC's facilities and operations. Based on that history, it is hard to imagine that the board has not been fully apprised of both the manner and scale of the company's operations."