BOSTON (CBS) – ’60 Minutes’ has broadcast the first video from inside the Framingham pharmacy at the center of a national meningitis outbreak.
This video, obtained first by CBS News, was taken by federal inspectors inside the New England Compounding Center (NECC).
NECC was shut down last year after producing thousands of vials of a steroid pain medication that caused fungal meningitis. It killed 48 people and sickened more than 700 others in the worst pharmaceutical disaster in decades.
The patients were injected with the steroid to relieve chronic pain.
The video showed the fungus inside them in a sample that was grown from the spinal fluid of a patient.
There was also video of federal investigators collecting mold samples. Many came from what was ironically called “the clean room.”
“(We thought) we’re gonna hurt a patient, we were just thinking hurt a patient, Joe Connolly, a former NECC lab technician, told ’60 Minutes’
“The underlying factor is that the company got greedy and overextended and we got sloppy and something happened.”
NECC was only supposed to be compounding drugs for individual patients with prescriptions, but instead they were manufacturing on a massive scale.
“We became a manufacturer overnight so we were basically trying to have the best of both worlds it was trying to manufacture without the oversight of a manufacturer and we all got overtaxed,” Connolly said.
A former NECC salesman said names for fake patients – like Bart Simpson, Homer Simpson, John Doe and Jane Doe – were created to get around regulations.
There was no oversight because the FDA does not inspect compounding pharmacies.
FDA commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg says if that doesn’t change, she can’t guarantee something like this can’t happen again.
NECC owner Barry Cadden and others are still the target of a criminal investigation.