BOSTON — A Massachusetts pharmacist prepared medications in what he knew were unsafe and unsanitary conditions, setting off the “largest national health crisis caused by a pharmaceutical product,” a federal prosecutor told jurors on Tuesday.
Glenn Chin, the supervisory pharmacist of the now-defunct New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Framingham, Mass., was accused of sending drugs he knew could be tainted to medical centers across the country.
Prosecutors say his actions resulted in a deadly fungal meningitis outbreak in 2012 that sickened over 700 people in 23 states, killing 76.
The source of the outbreak was traced back to contaminated steroid injections, often used to treat back pain, compounded at NECC.
Chin showed a “shocking disregard” for human life, said Assistant U.S. Attorney George Varghese during the first day of the trial, saying Chin ignored findings of mold and bacteria in the clean rooms where the drugs were compounded, neglected to test drugs before distribution and shipped expired products.
“It’s a story of greed and cutting corners,” Varghese said. “But mostly it’s a story of fraud.”
Chin, who was clad on Tuesday in a gray suit and glasses, faces 25 counts of second-degree murder.
“He had one job,” said Varghese, after playing a short video with the names and faces of the victims. “He just didn’t care enough to do it.”
Several others also face criminal charges related to the meningitis outbreak, but none except Chin and NECC president and co-founder Barry Cadden were charged with second-degree murder.
Chin’s attorney, Stephen Weymouth, said his client had simply been following the orders of Cadden, who was sentenced in June to nine years on racketeering and mail fraud charges after being acquitted of all second-degree murder charges.
“Glenn Chin was nothing but a trained employee,” Weymouth told jurors.