Barry Cadden, the owner and director of the specialty pharmacy tied to a deadly fungal meningitis outbreak, declined to testify Wednesday morning before a congressional committee investigating the matter.
Cadden, co-founder of the New England Compound Center, told lawmakers he would use his Fifth Amendment right to not answer questions in order to avoid self-incrimination.
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After repeated questioning by House lawmakers, Cadden told the House Energy and Commerce Committee: “Under advice of counsel, I respectfully decline to answer under basis of my constitutional rights and privileges, including the Fifth Amendment.”
Lawmakers continued to ask Cadden questions about the contamination of steroids used to treat patients — many for back pain — that has sickened nearly 430 people with fungal meningitis and caused 32 deaths. Another 10 patients have peripheral joint infections from injections.
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A recent investigation of the NECC facility in Framingham, Mass., found numerous sterility issues, including bacterial contamination and mold growth in areas where drugs are prepared. Compounded drugs are supposed to be prepared in temperature-controlled clean rooms to maintain sterility.
The NECC has been closed since early last month, and Massachusetts officials have taken steps to permanently revoke its license. The pharmacy has recalled all the products it makes, including about 17,700 single-dose vials of a steroid that up to 14,000 patients my have received.
Fungal meningitis causes inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord.