By Jay Lindsay, Associated Press

BOSTON (CBS/AP) — The head of the Massachusetts health department says investigators still don’t know why regulators backed off a severe penalty against a pharmacy now implicated in a deadly meningitis outbreak.

In 2004, after product safety and sterility problems were discovered at the New England Compounding Center, the state’s pharmacy board proposed an official reprimand and three years’ probation for the Framingham pharmacy.

The company protested, saying it could destroy the business.

In 2006, the board entered into a more lenient, non-disciplinary agreement with NECC.

In a copy of testimony to be delivered before Congress on Thursday, interim commissioner Dr. Lauren Smith said “troubling questions remain” about why the more lenient agreement was adopted, even after interviews and a records review.

Smith said she won’t be satisfied until she knows the reasons behind the decision.

The testimony also states that in 2002, Board of Pharmacy member Karen Ryle convened a task force to study board oversight of the compounding pharmacy industry.

Barry Cadden served on this task force, which met for nearly two years.

The Task Force discussed proposals to change regulations around compounding, but records do not show whether formal recommendations were made, and the board did not adopt new regulations.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)



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