Two Pharmacists Convicted For Their Involvement In 2012 Meningitis Outbreak

Two former pharmacists working with New England Computing Centre were sentenced formally for their role in causing a nationwide fungal meningitis pandemic during 2012. While 38 years old Gene Svirskly has been given 30 month long prison sentence with year of supervised release, 34 year old Christopher Leary has been given two years of probation along with 100 hours of community service.  Contaminated medication manufactured at New England Computing Centre (NECC) located at Massachusetts, sickened nearly 800 people across 20 states with fungal meningitis and other related infections.

The resulting crisis led to death of 100 patients making it the nation’s biggest public health crisis caused by a drug. These deaths occurred due to contaminated vials of steroid methylprednisolone acetate that was manufactured by the compounding firm. Attorney Paul Kelly of Christopher Leary stated that as his client was the youngest and least culpable employee and also did not have any role in compounding the medicine that led to the tragic series of events he received a fair sentence. The owner and head pharmacist of NECC Barry Caden was sentenced to 9 years of imprisonment in 2017 on 57 counts of racketeering, mail-fraud and selling wrongly branded drugs across the state.

The firm’s supervisory pharmacist Glenn Chin too was given a prison sentence of 8 eight years in Jan last year on 77 similar counts. In total around 13 NECC staff members were convicted of 178 charges that stemmed from the meningitis outbreak.  While listening to the cases the US Justice Department stated that though neither Barry Caden nor Genn A. Chin had specific intent to kill people they were extremely indifferent to the human lives that would be affected due to the contaminated medicine. The indictment accusing the NECC of neglect says that 751 people were infected with meningitis and other illnesses after their health officials injected them with the contaminated steroid.

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