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Pharmaceutical company charged for selling contaminated drugs

Montana patients may be shocked to learn that, on Dec. 17, 14 people were criminally charged for their alleged role in a meningitis outbreak that left 64 people dead. Authorities suspect that he outbreak, which occurred in 2012, was caused by the use of expired, improperly sterilized ingredients by pharmacists.

All of the individuals who fell ill were given a similar medication, which came in the form of a steroid injection, after complaining of back pain. Officials estimated that the alleged contamination caused more than 750 people in 20 different states to suffer illnesses. Half of the sick individuals were reportedly diagnosed with fungal meningitis. The others were diagnosed with spinal or joint infections.

A former Minnesota prosecutor stated that is was rare to see a pharmaceutical company face such prosecution. However, for this particular case, the link between the meningitis outbreak and the contamination at the laboratory was clear, purportedly. When regulators investigated the laboratory in question, they discovered mold, standing water and equipment that had not been properly sterilized, according to authorities. Subsequently, the company was named in hundreds of lawsuits and eventually filed for bankruptcy.

The president of the company and a supervisory pharmacist were ultimately charged with causing the death of 25 patients. The other 12 defendants were charged with a range of offenses, including sale of adulterated drugs and fraud.

When patients suffer injuries or illnesses that can be linked to a contaminated drug, they may be eligible to file a medical malpractice claim against the party or parties whose negligence led to the contamination. In order to prevail in the lawsuit, claimants must provide proof of the negligence.

Source: Boston.com, "14 charged in deadly 2012 meningitis outbreak", Denise Lavoie, December 17, 2014

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