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Pharmacist sentenced to 8 years for 2012 meningitis outbreak

By Daniel Uria

Jan. 31 (UPI) -- A federal judge in Massachusetts sentenced a former pharmacist to eight years in prison for his role in a 2012 meningitis outbreak, the Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns also sentenced Glenn Chin, 49, to two years of supervised release.

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He was convicted of 77 counts, including racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud and introduction of misbranded drugs into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud and mislead.

"Mr. Chin was a pharmacist, but again and again he acted with complete disregard for the health and safety of patients," U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said. "Mr. Chin will now be held responsible for producing contaminated drugs that killed dozens and grievously harmed over 750 people across the country. No patient should suffer harm at the hands of a medical professional, and we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to combat fraud and abuse in the health care system."

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New England Compounding Center owner and head pharmacist Barry Cadden was sentenced to nine years in prison for his role in the outbreak in June.

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A total of 753 patients in 20 states were diagnosed with a fungal infection after receiving injections of preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate, or MPA, and 64 patients in nine states died, according to the CDC.

"As a licensed pharmacist, Glenn Chin took an oath to protect his patients," said Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Boston Division. "In contrast, he failed miserably by cutting corners, ignoring warning signs, and harming hundreds of people with his reckless disregard for their safety"

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Chin was accused of improperly sterilizing and testing drugs, mislabeling drugs, skipping cleanings, and ignoring contamination such as mold and bacteria in the center's clean rooms.

He manufactured three contaminated lots of MPA and allowed them to be shipped, leading to the outbreak.

In October, a federal jury acquitted Chin of second-degree murder charges related to the outbreak.

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Following the outbreak, Congress passed new laws to improve FDA oversight of compounded drugs.

"A key aspect of the FDA's mission is to ensure that drugs are made under high quality conditions so that no patient is at risk of harm due to poorly compounded products," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said. "We're committed to the efficient, timely and robust implementation of that framework to help make sure patients can trust the reliability and safety of compounded drugs, recognize the benefits of pharmacy compounding, and that we protect consumers from harm."

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