Drug maker's problems evident before outbreak, says report - WSMV Channel 4

Drug maker's problems evident before outbreak, says report

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

A Massachusetts pharmacy board in charge of regulating companies repeatedly failed to discipline the compounding company at the center of the fungal meningitis outbreak, according to a report in the Boston Globe on Thursday.

The online edition of the paper headlined the story with "Mass. board was lenient on drug maker."

The report focused on the pharmacy board responsible for regulating the New England Compounding Center that produced the tainted steroid injections that were sent across the country, including Middle Tennessee.

The Boston Globe said the Massachusetts board repeatedly failed to discipline NECC but were more strict with dozens of other compounding companies.  Problems with the company were first discovered in 2004.

In 2006, the Massachusetts pharmacy board was about to issue an official reprimand and a three-year probation.  However, an attorney for NECC sent a letter to the board saying that move would be "fatal to the business."

Eventually the board agreed, dropping the reprimand completely and reduced the probation to one year.

So far, 70 patients in Tennessee have contracted fungal meningitis, nine patients have died and nationally 317 people developed the disease.

The board never gave a justification for failing to discipline NECC as much as it did other pharmacies.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has ordered an investigation into the pharmacy board.

Copyright 2012 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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