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Bigby: State Overseers And NECC Responsible For National Meningitis Outbreak

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JudyAnn Bigby (far right) gets ready to address officials in NECC hearing at the Statehouse. (Photo credit: WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Carl Stevens)

JudyAnn Bigby (far right) gets ready to address officials in NECC hearing at the Statehouse. (Photo credit: WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens)

BOSTON (AP/CBS) — Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary JudyAnn Bigby says state overseers and the managers of a compounding pharmacy bear responsibility for a fatal, nationwide outbreak of fungal meningitis.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports

Bigby told state lawmakers Wednesday that the Framingham-based New England Compounding Center, which distributed a contaminated steroid that has sickened about 440 people and led to more than 30 deaths, knowingly disregarded sterility tests and prepared medicine in unsanitary conditions.

“This is one of the greatest health care tragedies in my memory,” Bigby said.

Bigby also said the state Board of Pharmacy failed to take appropriate action to toughen oversight of the company.

She called “inexplicable” the decision of the board to weaken a proposed reprimand and probation of the center in 2006, allowing the center to continue operating without disciplinary actions.

Bigby said there are up to 26 additional sterile compounding pharmacies in the state.

(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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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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