Contaminated Steroid Investigation Leads to Prison Time for Barry Cadden

Barry Cadden, the owner of the New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Framingham, New England, was sentenced to nine years in prison after a 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak was traced to contaminated steroid injections made in the NECC. As of October 2013, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported 64 deaths from contaminated steroid injections traced to Cadden’s facility. Federal prosecutors estimate an additional 12 people have died since the report, bringing the death toll to 76. As a result, the NECC was hit with hundreds of lawsuits filed by the families of the deceased and over 700 others who were sickened by contaminated steroid injections.

The NECC is a compounding pharmacy. A compounding pharmacy is different than a traditional pharmacy, supplying custom-mixed, specialized medications directly to hospitals and doctors. The NECC began cutting corners in consumer safety standards, giving them the capital to mass-produce specialized steroid injections. Contaminated steroids were then sold to hospitals and doctors around the nation as a result of the NECC’s negligent and fraudulent behaviors. As a result of the NECC’s actions, Congress passed the Drug Quality and Security Act (2013), giving the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) new authority over compounding pharmacies like the NECC.

Investigations conducted during litigation found the NECC laboratory contained dirty mats and hoods, a leaky boiler, dark debris floating in vials of medicine, poor sterilization techniques, and infestations of insects and mice. The results of these investigations were turned over to the U.S. Department of Justice who proceeded to file charges – including murder – against Cadden.

In Cadden’s criminal trial, which lasted over six weeks, the jury acquitted Cadden of 25 second-degree murder charges but found him guilty of fraud and conspiracy. The fraud and conspiracy charges were grounded in the practice of falsifying logs to make the supposedly “clean” rooms look like they had been disinfected, using expired ingredients, and other techniques that cut costs for the facility. These practices put the health and livelihood of consumers at risk all in the name of increasing profits.

Glenn Chin – a supervisory pharmacist who ran clean rooms where the steroids were made – was also charged with 25 counts of second-degree murder, among other charges. Chin’s trial is scheduled for September 2017.