| BOSTON, March 16
BOSTON, March 16 Closing arguments are scheduled
for Thursday in the trial of the co-founder of a now-defunct
Massachusetts pharmacy charged with murder and racketeering for
his role in a 2012 meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people
across the United States.
Barry Cadden, 50, is the one of two former pharmacists at
the New England Compounding Center accused of second-degree
murder in an outbreak that sickened 751 people in 20 states.
Prosecutors called the outbreak the largest U.S. public health
crisis involving a pharmaceutical drug.
During his two-month trial in Boston federal court,
prosecutors accused Cadden of directing the shipment of steroids
often prescribed for back pain that were tainted with fungal
meningitis, even though he knew they were made in unsanitary
conditions at NECC's Framingham, Massachusetts, facility.
Cadden has pleaded not guilty to 96 criminal counts,
including 25 racketeering acts of second-degree murder. He could
be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.
The case led to strict regulations on compounding
pharmacies, which mix drugs but previously were treated with a
lighter hand than registered drug manufacturers. Inspections
after the outbreak turned up bugs, birds and other unsterile
conditions at an NECC affiliate.
NECC filed for bankruptcy in 2014 and in 2015 it agreed to
pay $200 million to victims and creditors, a sum that included
funds seized from Cadden.
Prosecutors accused Cadden of prioritizing profits over
patients, earning millions of dollars without concern about who
was using his drugs.
In total, NECC in 2012 sent out 17,600 vials of steroids
called methylprednisolone acetate contaminated with mold to 23
states, all labeled to indicate they were sterile and all in
bags carrying Cadden's initials, prosecutors said.
Defense lawyers did not dispute that people died after being
injected with the steroid but said Cadden had nothing to do with
They described the contamination as an isolated incident and
said NECC had shipped out 852,000 vials in the 6-1/2 years
leading up the outbreak without any deaths.
Supervisory pharmacist Glenn Chin also is accused of
racketeering acts of second-degree murder and will be tried
Lesser charges were filed against 10 other people. Three
have pleaded guilty, including NECC's former majority owner and
her husband, who were accused of financial crimes related to the
A federal judge dismissed charges against two defendants in
October. Charges remain pending against the other
(Reporting by Nate Raymond; Editing by Scott Malone and Bill