Murder Trial Begins for Pharmacist Over Meningitis Outbreak

Five years after the deadly outbreak, the owner and former head pharmacist of the NECC faces charges for racketeering, mail fraud, and murder.

The trial over the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak involving New England Compounding Center (NECC) pharmacist Barry Cadden, is underway. Five years after the deadly outbreak, the owner and former head pharmacist of the NECC faces charges for racketeering, mail fraud, and murder.

Here’s what you need to know about the trial so far:

  • January 9: Lawyers delivered opening statements in US District Court in Boston. The Boston Globe reported that federal prosecutors blamed Cadden, arguing that he was responsible for overseeing the compounding, packaging, and shipping of the drug, and had knowingly ignored industry regulations. Cadden’s attorney, Bruce Singal, told jurors that blame should solely be placed on the corporation’s mistakes and that there was no evidence to suggest Cadden had contaminated the medication.
  • January 10: A CDC lead investigator testified to the federal jury. Dr. Benjamin Park was the first witness called in for the trial. Park did not speak about Cadden’s involvement with the outbreak, but outlined how investigators traced the outbreak back to the NECC.
  • January 11: The Boston Herald reported that testimony indicated that the NECC used fake prescriptions, written out to various celebrities such as “Donald Trump,” “Tom Brady,” and “Bill Clinton,” to skirt industry regulators.
  • January 13: A former salesman for the NECC, Mario Giamei Jr., was the first person from the company to testify in the trial, touting the company’s testing process, although under cross-examination he acknowledged that NECC typically only conducted end-product testing on certain medications. Giamei did not see any issue with the company’s operations prior to the outbreak.

Lawyers allege that NECC pharmacists produced tainted steroids that led to 750 meningitis infections nationwide and 64 deaths. After the meningitis outbreak, authorities traced it back to the NECC and alleged that Cadden and other employees ignored industry regulations and safety standards, resulting in widespread contamination.

Cadden has been charged with 25 counts of murder and other offenses under federal racketeering laws.