The second person to be chargedIn 2012, the pharmaceutical company Chin was working for, the New England Compounding Centre, was involved in a health scare when steroid injections contaminated with virulent fungi was marketed across the US, causing fatal consequences to 76 victims and making hundreds more sick.
The company has since ceased operations and its factory in Framingham, about 20 minutes outside Boston, has since been abandoned. Chin is being charged with second-degree murder and faces life in prison if convicted of all 76 counts under federal racketeering laws.
Chin is not the first person from the New England Compounding Centre to be charged over the scandal. The co-founder of the compounding pharmacy, Barry Cadden underwent a trial on second degree murder charges in June 2017. The trial lasted nine weeks and took the jury 20 hours of deliberation before coming to a verdict that Cadden was not guilty of murder.
However, Cadden was found guilty of conspiracy and fraud, and was sentenced to nine years in jail. Details during the trial revealed that Cadden used fake prescriptions and did not follow regulations and production standards in order to boost productivity levels.
This blatant disregard for sanitation and sterility resulted in several hundreds of preservative free vials of steroid shots being contaminated with fungi. These vials were then delivered to clinics, where doctors injected them into patients for pain management purposes, resulting in the virulent fungi infecting hundreds of unsuspecting patients, many of whom did not survive the ordeal.
A stronger case this timeChin’s defence lawyers have expressed concern that prosecutors may have built a better case this time as compared to Cadden. Chin was the supervisor pharmacist who was managing the clean room where the steroids were being made and is being accused of failing to ensure proper sterilisation procedures during the manufacturing process.
The injections, which contain methylprednisolone acetate is usually used on patients suffering from lower back pain to ease their symptoms. A large-scale meningitis infection later broke out, and researchers managed to link it to the products from this one pharmaceutical centre.
In the previous trial involving co-founder Cadden, Chin was accused of being the only one who had full control over production and sanitation standards. However, Chin’s lawyers intend to argue that he was merely taking orders from his superior, Cadden, and was not instrumental in making crucial decisions.
Prevention is the main concernFor Scott Shaw, none of this finger-pointing matters. After he watched his mother died from meningitis caused by tainted methylprednisolone acetate, his only concern was to stop such tragedy from ever happening again.
“I believe as surely as I'm talking to you right now that if something isn't done, we will repeat this,” he stressed. No doubt, many of the victim’s family members share his sentiment and want justice to be served – so that no one else has to go through a similar experience. MIMS
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