BOSTON (CBS/AP) – Massachusetts have permanently revoked the license of the Framingham pharmacy linked to a deadly outbreak of meningitis, Governor Patrick announced on Tuesday.
Governor Patrick and state health officials made the announcement on Tuesday while promising big changes in the wake of the deadly outbreak.
Those changes will include yearly unannounced inspections of other compounding facilities, which will begin immediately.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports
“It’s more than a little troubling,” Governor Patrick said on Tuesday. “I think there are some learnings here, not just about NECC, but some things that maybe DPH ought to think about doing differently and we will think about doing differently.”
State inspectors say that in the wake of the outbreak, inspectors found unclean conditions including visible black specks of fungus in steroids made by a pharmacy linked to a deadly outbreak of meningitis.
Inspectors say drugs were sent out before tests results on their sterility could be returned and a leaking boiler was located near a company clean room. They also said the company operated as a drug manufacturer by producing drugs for broader use, rather than filling out specific prescriptions for specific doctors, which is all its license allowed.
Industry experts say federal and state regulators should have paid more attention to the conditions at NECC.
Documents reviewed by WBZ-TV’s I-Team showed problems with contaminated medications in 2003, and unsanitary conditions in 2006.
Inspectors also checked the facility in 2011, but somehow missed warning signs that NECC was illegally mass producing drugs.
Some of those drugs are now connected to the deadly nationwide meningitis outbreak.
As far as the permanent license suspension goes, NECC has the option of appealing that decision. WBZ-TV has reached out to company officials but has not heard back. It is unclear whether they intend to appeal.
The outbreak of meningitis, an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord, has sickened nearly 300 people, including 23 who died, in more than a dozen states. Each victim had received a steroid shot, mostly for back pain. Federal health officials matched the shots produced by the company to the outbreak after finding a deadly fungus in more than 50 unopened vials there but have not said how the shots were contaminated.
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