Sales ex­ec­u­tive pleads guilty in fa­tal menin­gi­tis out­break

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

Two men fac­ing mul­ti­ple mur­der charges stem­ming from a na­tional menin­gi­tis out­break that killed 64 peo­ple will be tried sep­a­rately, a fed­eral judge has ruled.

US District Court Judge Richard Stearns said in his de­ci­sion last week that he sev­ered the tri­als of Barry Cadden and Glenn Chin re­luc­tantly be­cause their lawyers plan “an­tag­o­nis­tic” de­fenses and be­cause of an “im­bal­ance of ev­i­dence.” Cadden was the co­founder and head phar­ma­cist of the New Eng­land Com­pound­ing Cen­ter in Fram­ing­ham. Chin was su­per­vi­sory phar­ma­cist at the now-closed busi­ness.

A com­pany sales ex­ec­u­tive, Robert Ronzio, pleaded guilty on Mon­day to con­spir­ing to de­fraud the US Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion and is ex­pected to tes­tify at the tri­als of the other de­fen­dants, pros­e­cu­tors said.

The com­pound­ing cen­ter used ex­pired in­gre­di­ents and failed to fol­low clean­li­ness stan­dards, re­sult­ing in tainted steroid in­jec­tions, pros­e­cu­tors said. More than 750 peo­ple in 20 states fell ill in 2012, and 64 died.

Cadden and Chin are each charged with 25 counts of mur­der and other of­fenses un­der fed­eral rack­e­teer­ing laws. Lawyers for both men have said fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors over­reached in charg­ing them with mur­der. Both have pleaded not guilty and are free on bail.

Cadden’s lawyers filed the mo­tion for sep­a­rate tri­als this month. The mo­tion re­mains un­der seal. Cadden’s trial is sched­uled to start Jan 4. Chin’s trial will be­gin im­me­di­ately af­ter­ward.

Ronzio, of North Prov­i­dence, Rhode Is­land, was the com­pany’s na­tional sales di­rec­tor. He ad­mit­ted the com­pany cre­ated nu­mer­ous work-arounds to make it ap­pear to reg­u­la­tors it was dis­pens­ing drugs for pa­tient-spe­cific pre­scrip­tions when it was ac­tu­ally mak­ing them in bulk. —AP

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