Pharmacy Exec in Deadly US Meningitis Outbreak Gets Stiffer, 14-1/2 Year Prison Term

By Nate Raymond

July 08, 2021

BOSTON (Reuters) - A founder of a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy whose mold-tainted drugs sparked a deadly U.S. fungal meningitis outbreak in 2012 was resentenced on Wednesday to 14-1/2 years in prison after a federal appeals court overturned his earlier 9-year term.

U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns in Boston said the appellate court at least implicitly deemed as too light the original sentence for Barry Cadden, the co-founder and former president of the now-defunct New England Compounding Center (NECC).

"I do not personally agree, but so it is with many of the things I'm required to do as a judge," he said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Strachan said the prior sentence minimized Cadden's conduct, which "grievously harmed" his victims.

She sought half the 35 years that prosecutors originally sought for Cadden, a stiff term that defense lawyer Bruce Singal said was too high for a fraud offense.

Stearns also ordered Cadden, 54, to pay $82 million in restitution to his victims and forfeit $1.4 million to the government.

Prosecutors had sought 17-1/2 years for Cadden after successfully appealing Stearns' initial decision to sentence Cadden and Glenn Chin, NECC's supervisory pharmacist, to nine and eight years in custody, respectively.

Both men were separately convicted in 2017 of racketeering and fraud over misrepresentations to NECC customers about its drugs, but were cleared of second-degree murder charges related to 25 patients' deaths.

Prosecutors said those deaths stemmed from a fungal meningitis outbreak traced back to mold-tainted steroids that Framingham, Massachusetts-based NECC produced in filthy and unsafe conditions and sold to hospitals and clinics nationally.

The outbreak sickened 793 patients, more than 100 of whom have died, prosecutors said.

A federal appeals court last year concluded Stearns in determining the original sentences wrongly concluded that only the hospitals that bought NECC's drugs counted as victims and not any patients injected with its contaminated medications.

Stearns will resentence Chin on Thursday. Cadden and Chin are in custody awaiting trial on separate second-degree murder charges in Michigan, which was hit hard by the outbreak.