According to a recent news article from CBS Boston, the founders of a Framingham compounding pharmacy and 12 other employees have been charged with racketeering and second-degree murder.
Court papers indicated the compounding pharmacy was only licensed to manufacture small numbers of specific drugs for individual patients. This is the same pharmacy that was linked to a 2012 meningitis outbreak allegedly caused by tainted steroids made by defendants. In that incident, 64 people died and 750 more became seriously ill after taking the drugs.
As part of an investigation into this defective drug manufacturing incident, authorities found records filled with obviously fake names of patients such as “Bud Weiser,” “Filet O’fish,” and “Baby Jesus.” There were instructions by company founders that the names used in official logs should resemble real names and not be obviously false, though it appears employees did not follow this advice. The fake names are part of an alleged plan to defraud the FDA and avoid reporting requirements.
It is believed the government has cooperating witnesses who worked for the now-bankrupt company. It is alleged the tainted drugs were contaminated in an unsanitary laboratory and sent to patients before being tested. Additionally, there also allegations of money laundering and fraud related to the false records.
The 74-page felony indictment also charges defendants with selling steroids in bulk to users without valid prescriptions and then using additional fake names such as “Chester Cheeto” to cover up the illegal sales.
Prior to criminal charges being filed, company officials were called to testify before a congressional oversight committee, but witnesses asserted their constitutional rights to remain silent and not incriminate themselves during the hearings.
As is typical in federal criminal cases, it is likely that the murder charges were added to the indictment in an attempt to scare the defendants into accepting a plea deal. Very few cases of this nature actually end up in trial.
As our Boston defective drug litigation attorneys can explain, any company that manufactures a drug, whether in a large factory or in a small compounding pharmacy, owes a duty of care to act in a reasonable and prudent manner to prevent foreseeable injury to foreseeable plaintiffs.
The reasonable and prudent manner at the very least requires drug makers to adhere to all federal and state laws and follow industry standard safety protocols when making drugs.
It should be noted that, even though this was an extreme example involving a local Massachusetts compounding pharmacy, contaminated drugs are a major problem that we also see in the case of multinational drug manufacturers. We recently saw that an entire production run of Xarelto (a New Oral Anticoagulant) was voluntarily recalled by the manufacturer due to bacteria being found in some of their product.
If you are the victim of a dangerously designed drug or contaminated drug, you should speak with a lawyer who regularly handles these types of cases, as these cases are often far more complex than other personal injury cases.
If you are the victim of a compounding pharmacy illness in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.
More Blog Entries:
Compounding Pharmacy Regulations Put Patients in Danger, Sept. 9, 2013, Boston Product Liability Lawyer Blog