Ex-Pharmacy Head Convicted Of Fraud, Not Murder, For 60 Meningitis Deaths

First Posted: Mar 23, 2017 05:47 AM EDT

In 2012, a deadly outbreak of meningitis surfaced, allegedly from injections with tainted medicine produced by the Boston-based New England Compounding Center. The company's former president and co-founder, 50-year-old Barry Cadden, was found guilty of racketeering and mail fraud on Wednesday. However, the jury acquitted him on the 25 counts of second-degree murder.

ABC News reported that Cadden was accused of creating a public health crisis due to practices and unsanitary conditions of the company. These actions doomed the hundreds of people for whom the company produced the drugs in the first place. Officials looking into the Compounding Center said that investigators found dirty mats and hoods, dark debris floating in medicine vials and even a leaky boiler.

Barry Cadden's acquittal of the 25 counts of second-degree murder dismayed the survivors of the outbreak. This is especially considering that the former Pharmacy Head will likely be spared from life in prison. Sentencing was scheduled for June 21. But until then, he is considered a free man.

According to The New York Times, there were some 13,000 people from different states who could have been injected with the tainted medicine in 2012. Recepients then waited to see whether or not they developed symptoms. At the end of the scare, 732 people were found to have been infected by meningitis and other infections, while 64 died.

Acting United States Attorney for Massachusetts William D. Weinreb said that Barry Cadden was still held accountable for the serious crimes. He said that the trial revealed Cadden to have participated in a massive fraud where his company masqueraded as a pharmacy, even though the N.E.C.C. was in fact manufacturing drugs. This front, Weinreb explained, was how Cadden managed to escape the scrutiny of the FDA.

The burden of proof for the murder charges were also said to be "too high." Kevin Outterson, a law professor at Boston University, shared the state attorney will have to show that the pharmacist knew or disregarded the tainted vials they were shipping to different parts of the country.

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