By Phil Williams
Chief Investigative Reporter
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- There are new questions about whether the Massachusetts pharmacy at the center of the deadly meningitis outbreak may have broken the law when it mixed up massive quantities of those steroid drugs.
That new development came late Friday in a statement from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
As NewsChannel 5 Investigates has been reporting, those tainted drugs came from a pharmacy that takes approved drugs and mixes them up to form new compounds. New England Compound Center promotes itself as a source for hard-to-get drugs.
Investigators say the company has now recalled more than 17,000 doses of the steroid drug, methylprednisolone acetate, that were shipped to 23 states.
In that statement, Massachusetts authorities said that, under the regulations of that state's pharmacy board, "pharmacists and pharmacies are only permitted to dispense and compound medication pursuant to a prescription from a registered practitioner for an individual patient."
That means that a doctor could ask a pharmacy to mix up a drug for just one patient.
In this case, the investigation has suggested that NECC was mixing up mass quantities, which -- according to the statement -- might be illegal.
As for the hospitals and clinics, that question has the potential to create some liability issues and lead plaintiff lawyers to question why they chose to buy drugs from such a facility.
- 10/2/12: Meningitis Investigators Eye Link To Compounding Pharmacy
- 10/3/12: Meningitis Outbreak Traced To MassaChusetts Pharmacy
- 10/4/12: 17,676 Vials At Center Of Meningitis Investigation