Meningitis Plaintiffs Ask Judge to Freeze $500M in Steroid-Maker's Assets
At stake are $461 million in assets belonging to New England Compounding Center, its owners and related companies. Patients at clinics in Shakopee, Fridley, Edina and Maple Grove have been sickened in a 19-state outbreak that started with steroids made at
A federal judge in Boston was set to hear arguments today, Nov. 20, on whether to freeze nearly $500 million in assets, including luxury homes, related to New England Compounding Center, the Massachusetts specialty pharmacy linked to a deadly meningitis outbreak, reported Reuters.
U.S. District Judge Dennis Saylor has ordered an expedited hearing to determine whether to freeze at least $461 million in assets belonging to New England Compounding Center, its owners and two related companies, according to court records.
Saylor did not rule immediately Tuesday, according the Associated Press.
34 Deaths So Far
The fungal meningitis outbreak, linked to New England Compounding Center on Waverly Street in Framinghan, has killed 34 patients and infected almost 500 individuals in 19 states.
- Medical Advanced Pain Specialists (MAPS) in Edina, Fridley, Shakopee and Maple Grove
- Minnesota Surgery Center (MSC) in Edina and Maple Grove
Lots of Lawsuits
The Massachusetts judge granted the request after plaintiffs' attorneys argued NECC and its owners might try to conceal assets to avoid now more than 30 lawsuits filed nationwide.
A woman in Savage, MN filed suit in October.
Lawyers for NECC and its owners Barry Cadden his brother-in-law Gregory Conigliaro would like the lawsuits consolidated.
"There are at least 43 such cases currently pending in numerous federal courts around the country ... All of these actions seek recovery for injuries allegedly caused by the injection of methylprednisolone acetate compounded and distributed by NECC," said the NECC lawyers.
In 2005, Barry and Lisa Cadden built a 13-room house in Wrentham, MA, assessed at $1.8 million, reported the New York Times.
Gregory Conigliaro and his wife, Cynthia, bought a home in Southborough for $3.5 million in 2010 and a Cape Cod vacation home for $2.35 million this year, reported the New York Times.
Cadden and his wife, Lisa, bought a beach home about three years ago that recently was featured in Rhode Island Monthly magazine.
Taking the Fifth
Last week, two congressional hearings and one hearing at the Massachusetts statehouse were held on how this deadly outbreak could have happened.
Cadden took the fifth in the congressional hearing.
In a congressional report, the FDA considered New England Compounding Center to be a pharmacy in 2003. Pharmacies are regulated by the state, drug manaufacturers are regulated by the FDA.
Congressman Ed Markey, who represents Framingham, is the senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
He said NECC fell into a "blackhole" between federal and state regulators and became a "compounding manufacturer" and not a compounding pharmacy.
The two Washington, D.C., committees may create legislation to shift oversight of compounding pharmacies from states to the FDA.
Earlier this month, Massachusetts fired the director of its Board of Pharmacy after he failed to investigate a complaint against New England Compounding Center.
New England Compounding Center (NECC) recalled more than 17,000 steroids in September indicating they may contain a fungus.
The FDA released a list of customers, who received products from NECC in Framingham on or after May 21.