The New England Compounding Center was a large compounding pharmacy that packaged and distributed steroid injections to patients in 23 different states throughout the country. Steroid injections from this compounding center were shipped to more than 14,000 patients. Unfortunately, some of those steroids were contaminated because improper safety protocols were followed at the compounding pharmacy.
As a result of the dangerous drugs, a massive public health crisis occurred: a meningitis outbreak. There are 64 deaths and 750 people who developed infections that had to be treated. Victims who suffered harm pursued legal action, but the NECC went bankrupt, making it difficult for those who had been made sick to recover monetary damages.
In many large-scale defective drug cases, there are hundreds or even thousands of lawsuits against the responsible companies. Large pharmaceutical corporations can withstand these litigation costs and victims get paid. NECC, however, was just a small compounding pharmacy that should not have been operating on as large of a scale as it was. The bankruptcy left some patients without compensation and others suing sister companies of NECC to try to obtain monetary damages for medical bills and other losses.
Victims who get hurt because of any type of defective drugs need to understand their rights. A Charleston defective drug lawyer can help pursue all legal avenues to obtain monetary damages after harm occurs.
NECC Employees & Owners Arrested
Two years have passed since the meningitis outbreak, but the aftereffects are still ongoing. Just recently, for example, CBS reported that 14 people associated with NECC were subject to arrest because of the role they played in causing the outbreak. Charges ranged from introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce to mail fraud to racketeering and second degree murder. Owners of the NECC may have assets seized if convicted, which could provide funds for those who have suffered losses due to the meningitis outbreak.
The tragedy also revealed that the Food and Drug Administration did not have sufficient control over compounding pharmacies. These pharmacies were intended to mix individualized medications for patients when appropriate doses or drug combinations were not commercially available. However, NECC and other similar pharmacies were acting more like large-scale drug manufacturers operating throughout the country. The shift in the role of compounding pharmacies was not accompanied by a change in regulations. This left open questions about who regulated compounding pharmacies and how they were regulated.
The FDA is still grappling with how to solve this problem. Just this December, the FDA announced that a Pharmacy Compounding Advisory Committee had been created to “provide advice on scientific, technical and medical issues concerning drug compounding under sections 503A and 503B of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.”
Hopefully, the FDA’s committee will develop strong protocols to protect the public from unsafe and unsanitary compounding pharmacies. The arrest of those involved in the NECC tragedy should also send a strong message to others operating compounding pharmacies that they need to follow safety protocols and should not put profits over people.
Drug manufacturers and those who package drugs have an enormous responsibility to the public. The safety of thousands of people are in their hands, and they need to be held accountable if they make mistakes or are negligent in a way that causes harm. An experienced Charleston product liability lawyer can assist clients who are harmed or who lose loved ones due to defective drugs.