Fungal Meningitis Victims Say Sentence for Head Pharmacist "Is Not Justice"
June 27, 2017
A head Massachusetts pharmacist who prosecutors say “put profits before patients" has been sentenced to nine years in prison after a deadly fungal meningitis outbreak in 2012 – which a Livingston County woman says is in no way justice.
50-year-old Barry Cadden, the co-founder of the New England Compounding Center, was sentenced in federal court in Boston. He was earlier acquitted of 2nd degree murder charges but convicted on conspiracy and fraud charges after the outbreak that was traced to contaminated injections of medical steroids. 76 people died and hundreds of others were sickened. 15 Livingston County residents died after receiving contaminated steroid shots from a local clinic. He’s free on bond but must report to prison by August 7th.
A dozen victims who were sickened or lost loved ones asked the judge to give Cadden the harshest penalty allowed under the law, which would have been 35 years. Kathy Pugh of Fowlerville had been caring for her mother, Evelyn Bates-March (pictured), who became bedridden after receiving tainted injections for back pain. Her mother passed away in February. Pugh wasn’t surprised by the sentence, saying, "money talks." Pugh tells WHMI the judge could have send a strong message to other companies and executives but didn’t and it’s a huge injustice that Cadden only lose nine years of freedom when the victims have a life sentence. She says Cadden knew the consequences of his actions but money was more important.
Cadden tearfully apologized to the victims in court Monday, saying "I'm sorry for your extraordinary losses". Pugh said she doesn’t think Cadden feels any remorse at all based on his arrogant demeanor. While he cried in court, she feels it was because he’s sad to be going to prison, not because he’s sorry for the victims or for putting money over human lives. Pugh said the only justice would be for Cadden to spend the rest of his life in prison, receiving one of his tainted injections every day, and being on anti-fungal medication. Pugh said nine years is a slap in the face and Cadden should suffer the same hell the victims who lost their lives did but also the surviving victims, whose lives are forever changed and will never be whole.
Moving forward, Pugh feels the public needs to be very aware of where any medication is coming from and if it is FDA approved. She says compounding pharmacies don’t fall under FDA authority so there is no guarantee the medicine someone is getting is safe, even from a hospital. She says compounding pharmacies must be held to the same safety standards as pharmaceutical manufacturers. (JM)