Top exec at pharmacy in deadly meningitis outbreak sentenced

Dec 1, 2022, 5:17 PM | Updated: Dec 2, 2022, 7:30 am

BOSTON (AP) — A former co-owner of a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy at the center of a nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak that resulted in more than 100 patient deaths has been sentenced to a year in prison for conspiring to defraud the federal government.

Gregory Conigliaro, 57, as the vice president and general manager of the New England Compounding Center, was the company’s primary point of contact with federal and state regulators, federal prosecutors said in a statement after sentencing Thursday.

He and other company officials lied to the federal Food and Drug Administration and the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Pharmacy by saying the business was dispensing medications for patient-specific prescriptions.

The truth, according to prosecutors, is that the company was evading regulatory oversight through fraud and misrepresentation from 2002 until 2012, routinely shipping drugs to customers without patient-specific prescriptions and even creating fraudulent prescriptions to fool regulators.

About 800 patients in 20 states were sickened with fungal meningitis or other infections and about 100 died in 2012 after receiving injections of medical steroids manufactured by the now-closed New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Massachusetts, according to federal officials. The drugs were mostly intended to treat back pain.

“Mr. Conigliaro and his co-conspirators repeatedly made the choice to put their greed over patient safety,” U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins said in a statement. “In turn, nearly 800 patients suffered terribly and over 100 died. Today’s sentence sends a clear message to health care executives — if you lie to regulators, the outcomes can be deadly and we will hold you accountable.”

Conigliaro was among 14 company officials indicted in the case. The indictment did not charge Conigliaro with having any role in the manufacturing process. He was convicted by a jury in U.S. District Court in Boston in December 2018 of conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Barry Cadden, another co-owner who was also the head pharmacist, was sentenced in July 2021 to 14 1/2 years in prison, ordered to forfeit $1.4 million and pay restitution of $82 million. Former supervisory pharmacist Glenn Chin was sentenced in July 2021 to 10 1/2 years in prison and ordered to pay $82 million in restitution.

Both were convicted of fraud, racketeering and other crimes but acquitted of second-degree murder under under the federal racketeering law.

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Top exec at pharmacy in deadly meningitis outbreak sentenced