BOSTON (CBS) – The Director of the Massachusetts Board of Pharmacy has been fired amid an investigation into New England Compounding Center’s role in the nation-wide meningitis outbreak.

The Department of Public Health announced Wednesday, James Coffey had been terminated and board attorney Susan Manning, a member of the bargaining unit, was placed on administrative leave until the DPH completes their investigation.

The outbreak has spread to 19 states and killed 31 people.

According to the DPH investigation, a Colorado Board of Pharmacy filed a complaint against NECC alleging they had distributed manufactured drugs to their state without patient-specific prescriptions.

This was in violation of NECC’s Colorado and Massachusetts’ licenses.

The complaint was sent to Coffey and Manning, who would have been responsible for ordering an investigation but neither did so, according to the DPH.

“It is incomprehensible that Mr. Coffey and Ms. Manning did not act on the Colorado complaint given NECC’s past, and their responsibility to investigate complaints. Following the outbreak, staff also failed to disclose the existence of Colorado’s complaint to leadership at DPH,” Public Health Interim Commissioner Dr. Lauren Smith said in a statement.

“I find the actions of NECC reprehensible. We have the right to expect that all companies producing medication for use in delivering health care to comply with laws designed to protect patient safety. But I also expect the staff charged with oversight to perform their duties to the highest standards. That failed to happen here.”

The DPH did not name who would take over for Coffey and Manning.


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