Senate committee examines meningitis outbreak

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The recent fungal meningitis outbreak traced to contaminated products produced by the New England Compounding Center "should have, and could have, been avoided entirely," according to a report released today by staff of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee at a committee hearing on the outbreak. The report outlines the history of documented problems at NECC and its sister company, Ameridose. Contaminated drugs from NECC have been linked to 32 deaths and more than 450 illnesses. "Both federal and state regulators were well aware that NECC and its owners posed a risk to the public health," the report states. "… There were a number of authorities and mechanisms for both federal and state regulators to address this issue, but bureaucratic inertia appears to be what allowed a bad actor to repeatedly risk public health." HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) said that he will press for legislation to more closely regulate compounding pharmacies such as NECC.

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