Dangerous and defective drugs can be hazardous to consumers in several ways. Some drugs pose dangers to a certain percentage of users, leading to harmful side effects that make the drug a hazard. Some drugs are manufactured or processed in an unsafe manner and pose a danger to anyone who is exposed to them. The actions of one pharmaceutical company in Massachusetts led to the release of highly contaminated drugs. The products released caused many people to become ill and led to the deaths of 64 people.
Fungal meningitis was spread through a steroid treatment produced by the New England Compounding Center of Framingham. The drugs were contaminated with mold and bacteria. The drugs were manufactured in an unsafe environment, using expired ingredients, insufficient sterilization procedures and an appalling lack of concern for patients. The situation was such that federal prosecutors have now brought criminal charges against 14 former owners and employees of the company. The charges ranged from fraud and sale of adulterated drugs to second degree murder for causing death through wanton and willful disregard.
Criminal charges will not help the hundreds of people who became ill or the people who lost their lives to the dangerous drugs. The compounding pharmacy declared bankruptcy once the scope of the outbreak became clear. The hundreds of lawsuits against the drug company will seek whatever resources are left to help the victims cover medical expenses and other costs associated with the tainted drugs. Hopefully the law will provide some measure of justice for those affected.
Source: Boston.com, “14 charged in deadly 2012 meningitis outbreak,” by Denise Lavoie, 17 December 2014