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Officials: Dirty Conditions at Pharmacy Linked to Meningitis Outbreak

Source: Boston Herald

Posted on 24 Oct 2012 by Neilson

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Meningitis outbreakState officials described the dirty conditions they found inside the New England Compounding Center at a State House press conference this afternoon, while Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick announced tougher rules for compounding pharmacies in the wake of the deadly fungal meningitis outbreak.

"No one should live in fear that medicine is unsafe," said Patrick.

A report by the state's Board of Registration in Pharmacy reveals officials found "visible black particulate matter" in vials returned to NECC on Oct. 2 identified as fungal contamination.

Investigators also observed unsanitary conditions and "safety deficiencies" at the Framingham-based pharmacy, including evidence the pharmacy failed to follow proper standards for final sterilization of products.

A leaky boiler created "an environment susceptible to contaminant growth," the report also found.

Patrick also announced the Board of Pharmacy has "permanently revoked" NECC's license to operate in Massachusetts, although there is an appeal process. And the licenses of NECC's three principal pharmacists have been revoked.

"Those whose laboratory practices caused this outbreak should never practice pharmacy or manufacture in Massachusetts again," Patrick said.

Patrick admitted the state has not done enough.

"It's also clear that our own rules here in Massachusetts for compounding pharmacies have not kept pace with an industry that's changing rapidly," said Patrick.

He also announced the state will conduct more frequent unannounced inspections of compounding pharmacies that make sterile injectable medications.