As reported by USA Today, criminal prosecution of those allegedly responsible for the 2012 distribution of contaminated and lethal back pain medication begins this week as the first pharmacy executive involved goes to trial in federal court in Boston. The criminal prosecution follows a federal probe and two years of civil litigation, as hundreds were injured and at least 76 died after contracting fungal meningitis from the contaminated steroid injections.
More than 14,000 patients across the U.S. received epidural steroid injections containing contaminated medication manufactured by the New England Compounding Center (NECC) in 2012. The injections were administered in hospitals and medical clinics, and were prescribed for the relief of back pain. Due to the contamination of these medications, about 800 patients contracted fungal meningitis and 76 patients died. Most of the of civil cases were resolved in 2015 as part of a $200 million settlement. A few cases against medical facilities that prescribed the tainted steroids are still pending.
“This is the deadliest catastrophe in the history of modern medicine,” Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein partner Mark Chalos told USA Today. “The stricken patients and families who lost loved ones take some comfort in knowing that those responsible for making the contaminated medication will be held accountable by a jury. The criminal trials are an important step. There remains more work to be done to hold all the wrongdoers accountable, by juries in civil and criminal courts.”
Mr. Chalos is managing partner at Lieff Cabraser in Nashville, and serves in a court-appointed national leadership role on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in civil litigation on behalf of the victims.
Barry J. Cadden, director of NECC, is charged with 25 counts of second-degree murder connected to deaths in seven states, USA Today reports. He and 13 other company executives and pharmacists were indicted in 2014.
“Among the violations alleged by prosecutors that led to that toll: using expired ingredients, failing to sterilize the medicine and ignoring indications there was mold in the rooms where medicines were made. Prosecutors say the pharmacy executives knew the potential consequence of those actions was death,” USA Today reports.
About Mark Chalos
Mr. Chalos is a top litigator working on complex civil cases in federal courts in Tennessee and across the United States. Mr. Chalos represents individuals who have suffered catastrophic personal injuries and families whose loved ones died because of the negligence or misconduct of others.
Over the past 18 years in practice, Mr. Chalos has obtained millions of dollars in settlements for families who have been harmed by wrongful conduct, including the representation of 32 school children who were videotaped undressing in their school locker room (achieving a $1.28 million jury verdict) and of a young woman who suffered a severe brain injury in a car wreck (nearly $4 million jury verdict). Mark also obtained an $8 million arbitration award on behalf of a business client whose company was ruined by the wrongful conduct of a key supplier.