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House presses meningitis probe
House lawmakers have issued a subpoena for the director of the Massachusetts pharmacy linked to the deadly meningitis outbreak.
The subpoena comes after Barry Cadden, co-founder of New England Compounding Center, indicated through his lawyer that he would not voluntarily attend a congressional hearing scheduled for Nov. 14, the House Energy and Commerce Committee said Tuesday.
A message sent to Mr. Cadden’s lawyer seeking comment was not immediately returned.
More than 400 people have been sickened by contaminated steroid shots distributed by the compounding pharmacy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thirty deaths have been reported.
“Since Mr. Cadden has indicated he will not appear voluntarily, we are left with no choice but to issue a subpoena,” said committee Chairman Fred Upton, Michigan Republican. “We urge Barry Cadden to put the public health first and answer the committee’s questions about the deadly outbreak.”
House and Senate lawmakers have been investigating the outbreak since it surfaced last month. They have scheduled separate hearings next week to examine how it occurred and how a reoccurrence can be prevented.
A staffer for the Senate health committee said Mr. Cadden has not yet confirmed whether he will attend the Senate hearing, which is scheduled for Nov. 15.
Other witnesses scheduled to appear include Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg, and officials from the CDC and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Mr. Cadden founded the Framingham, Mass.-based compounding pharmacy in 1998 with his brother-in-law, Gregory Conigliaro. The business was successful enough that in 2006 the partners started another pharmacy, Ameridose, which would eventually report annual revenue of $100 million.
Last month, state officials revoked Mr. Cadden’s pharmacy licenses and the licenses of two other NECC pharmacists after inspectors found unsterile conditions the company’s facilities. NECC and Ameridose have both shut down operations and recalled all their products under pressure from state and federal authorities.
No meningitis infections have been linked to Ameridose, which has separate operations in Westborough, Mass., but the company says it issued the recall “out of an abundance of caution.”
Cases of meningitis have been reported in 19 states: Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
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