Mixed Emotions For Meningitis Victims Following NECC Arrests

BOSTON (CBS/AP) – Victims of the meningitis outbreak blamed on a Framingham-based pharmacy said they are satisfied following the arrest of 14 people suspected to be involved, but added that the arrests do not change the struggles they still face as a result of the tainted drugs.

On Wednesday, two co-founders of New England Compounding Center, Barry Cadden and Greg Conigliaro, and 12 other former employees were arrested at their homes for their alleged roles in producing contaminated steroids that killed 64 people and sickened around 750 others around the country.

Read: The NECC Indictment (.pdf)

A woman who says she received a tainted injection as part of the nationwide meningitis outbreak is “living a life sentence of pain.” She doesn’t want to be identified but tells WBZ-TV she cried over the news that the co-owners of New England Compounding Center and 12 employees were indicted in connection with the outbreak.

“I cried and said ‘hallelujah.’ I am thrilled to see they’ll get more than a slap on the wrist. They stripped me of my quality of life.”

The one-time welder was seeking relief from severe back pain when she received the injection in September, 2012. The medicine she received was from a contaminated lot manufactured by NECC.

“My head is always in a vice,” she says. “Even if I get the pain under control with medication I still feel the grip. To not be in control of your body is very difficult.”

She has joined a lawsuit hoping to recoup some of the $266,000 in medical debt she has accrued dealing with the effects of the medication. She hopes the defendants serve time, and their assets are seized, with money going to families who lost loved ones, and helping other victims find relief.

Cranston, R.I., resident Patricia Schmiedeknecht told WBZ-TV that after she was involved in a car crash she sought relief for a bulging disc and received a steroid injection from NECC that turned out to be contaminated.

The teacher and mother of two said she suffered from headaches, severe pain when sleeping and burning in her legs as a result of the injection.

“I really was on my deathbed,” said Schmiedeknecht.

Schmiedeknecht said she had mixed emotions following Wednesday’s arrests.

“It’s a very confusing thing,” said Schmiedeknecht. “I’m sad, I’m happy. We’re not at the end, we’re nowhere near the end for this to be over. This is just one more step.”

Victims’ attorney Kimberly Dougherty echoed Schmiedeknecht’s sentiments. Dougherty said she has had clients from the NECC outbreak who died as recently as two weeks ago.

“So the clients now who have been able to see what’s going on, I think it’s a relief to them to see that their suffering and their loss and the deaths of some of the family members is not going to be meaningless, and that people are going to be held responsible for their wrongful acts,” Dougherty said.

Linda Nedroscik of Howell, Michigan, said her husband, John, survived the tainted injection. But she said the 64-year-old “still struggles, has nightmares.”

“It’s hard to say it’s a relief because it doesn’t change anything for us in our physical lives,” she said of the indictment, “but it takes a burden off emotionally.”

WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano contributed to this report.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 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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