Grand jury to probe meningitis deaths

By Gary Gosselin

Dolan Media Newswires

Attorney General Bill Schuette has filed a petition with the Michigan Court of Appeals requesting a multi-county grand jury to see if any laws were broken by the tainted steroids that killed at least 14 in Michigan.

He's asking for an investigation of New England Compounding Center, the Massachusetts company linked to the recent meningitis outbreak, to see if it broke any state laws when it distributed tainted steroid injections to patients at clinics in four Michigan counties.

The first Michigan civil suit (as reported by Michigan lawyers Weekly) related to the outbreak was filed in Livingston County by Southfield attorney Robert Sickels. The defendant is Michigan Pain Specialists PLLC in Brighton.

Michigan Pain Specialists was one of the clinics accused of using tainted steroids after they were recalled, and Sickels said officials at the clinic should have known sooner.

This is the first suit. Sickels said that at least 22 more Michigan cases will follow.

On October 12, 2012, following verified reports that NECC was responsible for the meningitis outbreak, Schuette acted to suspend the company's pharmacy license in the State of Michigan. In a formal Complaint and Order of Summary Suspension filed with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Schuette alleged that NECC acted as a "drug manufacturer" - not a compounding facility - by distributing large amounts of medication to various hospitals and clinics in Michigan. The company had only been licensed to fill individual prescriptions for Michigan patients as a compounding facility. NECC's license was suspended and the company was forced to cease operations in Michigan.

Michigan leads the nation in patients affected by the outbreak, with 259 infections and 14 deaths recorded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Published: Mon, Apr 1, 2013

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