BOSTON — Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown said Thursday he will donate to charity about $10,000 in campaign donations he received from executives at the Massachusetts compounding pharmacy linked to a deadly outbreak of fungal meningitis.
Brown said the deaths linked to the outbreak were tragic and he plans to donate the money to the Meningitis Foundation of America.
Federal Election Commission reports show Gregory Conigliaro, a founder of the New England Compounding Center, donated $2,500 to Brown on June 28. Conigliaro and his wife also held a fundraiser on Sept. 7 for the senator at their Southborough home.
The fundraiser was held before the company was linked to the outbreak.
“To politicize that situation and try to say somehow that there’s a connection there, it’s sad,” Brown told reporters Thursday.
Officials have identified the Framingham based-firm as the source of steroid shots suspected in the fungal meningitis outbreak that has killed 14 people and made 170 others sick across the country.
Also, Dr. Madeleine Biondolillo of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has said it appears the New England Compounding Center violated state laws governing compounding pharmacies, which aren’t supposed to do large-scale production like a drug manufacturer.
Brown and other lawmakers have advocated for changes to federal rules governing how drugs can be distributed by compounding pharmacies. He and 10 other senators sent a letter July 24 to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration asking that it reconsider its determination that it is “categorically illegal to transfer controlled substances from pharmacies to treating physicians.” The letter was posted online Thursday by WCVB-TV.
Currently, the DEA allows the drugs to be delivered to patients who can take them to their doctors, who can then administer them.
Brown and the other senators argue that the DEA’s position “puts patients at a very real safety risk” and the rules should be changed to allow the pharmacies to deliver the drugs directly to doctors.
“Proper storage and administration, in which physicians (as opposed to patients) are specially trained and competent, is imperative,” the letter reads.
Brown told reporters at a campaign event in Hudson that the letter was a bipartisan effort “completely unrelated to what happened to these people.”
A campaign spokeswoman said Brown supports a full investigation into the meningitis outbreak to hold those responsible accountable, pointing out that the Food and Drug Administration, not the DEA, oversees the safety of the drugs.
Brown is locked in a tight race with Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren. The contest is already the most expensive political race in Massachusetts history.