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Pharmacy Executive Sentenced To Prison For His Role In Meningitis Case

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

There was a horrible meningitis outbreak a few years ago in New England. Now the former co-owner of a compounding pharmacy connected to the outbreak has been sentenced to nearly a decade in prison. From Boston, Gabrielle Emanuel of member station WGBH reports.

GABRIELLE EMANUEL, BYLINE: The 2012 meningitis outbreak killed more than 60 people across the country and made more than 700 others sick. It all started with injections of contaminated medicine from Barry Cadden's New England Compounding Center. Prosecutors said Cadden told his team to use expired ingredients. And his pharmacy failed to properly test drugs.

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WILLIAM WEINREB: The tainted drugs distributed on Mr. Cadden's watch caused the largest public health crisis in this country ever by a pharmaceutical drug.

EMANUEL: That's acting U.S. Attorney William Weinreb. He recommended that Cadden be sentenced to at least 35 years.

WEINREB: And again, although we thought that a higher sentence was warranted, we accept that sometimes the judge disagrees.

EMANUEL: Defense attorneys acknowledge the tragedy but argued it was the supervising pharmacist's fault, not Cadden's. Through tears, Cadden said he's haunted by what's happened. More than two dozen victims attended the sentencing. Robin Hannibass (ph) was outside the courthouse with her husband, Rick.

RICK HANNIBASS: She was healthy before the injection. She just had a herniated disc. Now she has cancer. She has infections in her breast.

ROBIN HANNIBASS: I have migraines, fatigue, vertigo, everything.

EMANUEL: They'd hoped the judge would give Cadden a life sentence.

RICK HANNIBASS: We got the prison sentence, and he gets out in a few years.

EMANUEL: Fourteen other people have been charged in connection with the outbreak. The supervising pharmacist is slated to stand trial in September. For NPR News, I'm Gabrielle Emanuel.

(SOUNDBITE OF GOGO PENGUIN'S "HOPOPONO") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.