DOJ Announces NECC Pharmacist's Arrest

CDC ultimately concluded 751 patients were diagnosed with a fungal infection related to their injections and that 64 of them died, according to DOJ, which said there is an active ongoing criminal investigation of the New England Compounding Center.

The 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak involving the New England Compounding Center made headlines again Sept. 4 when the U.S. Department of Justice announced that a supervising pharmacist from that company had been arrested the same day at Boston's Logan International Airport as he prepared to board a flight to Hong Kong. Glenn Adam Chin, 46, of Canton, Mass., was arrested in connection with the ongoing criminal investigation of NECC by the department's Civil Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts.

DOJ's release said Chin was arrested on one count of mail fraud and was scheduled to appear before Chief Magistrate Judge Jennifer C. Boal in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts Sept. 4.

The outbreak came to light Sept. 18, 2012, when a clinician reported a patient's culture-confirmed Aspergillus fumigatus meningitis diagnosed 46 days after epidural steroid injection at a Tennessee ambulatory surgical center. By Sept. 27, investigators had identified eight more patients in Tennessee and North Carolina. All nine patients had received epidural steroid injection with MPA produced by the center, which had been informed of the investigation Sept. 25 and recalled three lots of MPA the following day. It recalled all remaining products Oct. 6, according to an MMWR report. CDC announced Oct. 18, 2012, that 20 people had died in the United States after contracting meningitis from NECC's preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate solution and a total of 257 cases had been identified by that point in 16 states.

CDC ultimately concluded 751 patients were diagnosed with a fungal infection related to their injections and that 64 of them died, according to the DOJ release, which said there is an active ongoing criminal investigation of NECC.

"Chin was a supervising pharmacist at NECC who was involved in compounding the contaminated MPA that caused the outbreak. The criminal complaint charges Chin with participating in a scheme to fraudulently cause one lot of MPA to be labeled as injectable, meaning that it was sterile and fit for human use, and shipped to one of NECC's customers, Michigan Pain Specialists. As alleged in the affidavit, after receiving the MPA from NECC, doctors at Michigan Pain Specialists injected the drug into their patients believing it to be injectable as labeled. As a result, 217 of those patients contracted fungal meningitis, and 15 of those patients died," it states.

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