Jury Convicts Pharmacy Owner in Connection with 64 Deaths

Barry Cadden, owner and head pharmacist of New England Compounding Center, was convicted Wednesday of racketeering and mail fraud in connection with the 2012 nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak attributed to 64 deaths.

Haverhill pharmacist Joseph M. Evanosky was previously indicted for his role that federal officials call the “largest public health crisis ever caused by a pharmaceutical product.”

After a nine-week trial, the federal jury convicted Cadden, 50, of Wrentham , of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud and introduction of misbranded drugs into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud and mislead. U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns scheduled sentencing for June 21.

In 2012, 753 patients were diagnosed with a fungal infection after receiving injections of preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate manufactured by NECC. Of those 753 patients, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 64 patients in nine states died.

Specifically, Cadden directed and authorized the shipping of contaminated drugs to customers nationwide. He also authorized the shipping of drugs before test results confirming their sterility were returned, never notified customers of nonsterile results and compounded drugs with expired ingredients. Further, certain batches of drugs were manufactured, in part, by an unlicensed pharmacy technician, officials said. Cadden also repeatedly took steps to shield his operations from regulatory oversight by the FDA by claiming to be a pharmacy dispensing drugs pursuant to valid, patient-specific prescriptions. In fact, officials said, the pharmacy routinely dispensed drugs in bulk without valid prescriptions. The company even used fictional and celebrity names on fake prescriptions to dispense drugs such as “Michael Jackson,” “Freddie Mae” and “Diana Ross,” federal officials alleged.

Cadden faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on each of the mail fraud and racketeering counts.