This is the story of how a drug compounding pharmacy NECC in Framingham Mass., under a deregulated Food and Drug Administration regime passed in 1998, is motivated by greed to expand into drug manufacturing by conspiring with clients to create fraudulent patient prescription records on a large scale yielding wild profits, 44 deaths, and 678 people severely ill with spinal and other forms of meningitis due to contamination in its lab. U.S. authorities say NECC shipped thousands of vials of fungus-tainted methylprednisolone acetate to medical facilities throughout the United States.
60 Minutes video:
The owners of the Framingham pharmacy blamed for the fungal meningitis outbreak that has killed dozens of people and sickened hundreds more pulled millions of dollars out of the company in the last year.
Bankruptcy records show the four family members who cofounded New England Compounding Center received more than $16 million in wages and profits from the firm from December 2011 through November 2012 — roughly equal to half its sales during this period.
The filings also show the family members racked up $90,000 on corporate American Express credit cards, including charges made after the company shut down in early October. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy just before Christmas.
An attorney involved in the bankruptcy case said he felt “shock and amazement” when he saw the list of payments for family members.
The compounding pharmacy suspended operations after government investigators tied the outbreak to contaminated steroid injections made by the company — largely to treat back pain — and shipped to clinics across the country.
At least 44 people have died and 678 have become ill in 19 states from fungal meningitis or other complications after receiving the shots, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.