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Mass. official: Lots of blame in meningitis crisis

Associated Press Modified: November 14, 2012 at 6:16 pm •  Published: November 14, 2012
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Compounding pharmacies traditionally fill special orders placed by doctors for individual patients, turning out a small number of customized formulas each week. In recent decades some compounders, like the NECC, have grown into large businesses that ship thousands of doses of drugs to multiple states.

Bigby said up to 26 additional sterile compounding pharmacies operate in the state.

James DeVita, chairman of the pharmacy board, put responsibility for the deaths back on the company and said the board needs additional resources to expand investigations into the compounding pharmacy industry.

"We are angry. The worst case scenario has happened," DeVita told lawmakers. "It appears that a rogue operator may not have followed the rules."

DeVita also said the state needs to provide more training for inspectors, increase the number of random inspections, and create a separate license for pharmacies that engage in compounding that's distinct from the licenses given to neighborhood drug stores.

DeVita said he thought the resolution with the center in 2006 was a good outcome for the public even though it resulted in a lesser sanction because the agreement included steps the company was supposed to take to ensure quality.

Rep. Harold Naughton, House chairman of the Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, said the series of events that led to the deaths and illness is troubling. He said Cadden exploited what Naughton called a "wasteland of the law" between federal and state regulations.

"They intentionally took advantage of an area of the law where they knew they were not being looked at and basically became a mass-producing pharmacy and gave up on their quality control," said Naughton, D-Clinton. "I lay that squarely at the feet of Barry Cadden and his company."