WASHINGTON (AP) — House lawmakers investigating a nationwide outbreak of deadly meningitis have summoned the head of the Food and Drug Administration to testify at the first congressional hearing on the issue next week.
The Energy & Commerce Committee said Monday that FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg will appear before the committee on Nov. 14. The following day she is scheduled to appear before the Senate health committee, which is also probing the outbreak.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 419 cases of meningitis illness linked to contaminated steroid shots distributed by New England Compounding Center. Thirty people have died as a result of the outbreak, the agency reported Monday.
Committee staffers said they have also invited Barry Cadden, co-founder of the specialty pharmacy linked to the outbreak. Also invited is James Coffey, director of the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Pharmacy. Staffers say they are awaiting replies from Cadden and Coffey.
Compounding pharmacies traditionally fill special orders placed by doctors for individual patients, turning out a small number of customized formulas each week. But some pharmacies like the NECC have grown into much larger businesses in recent years, supplying bulk orders of medicines to thousands of doctors and hospitals across the country.