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Mass. Pharmacy Board Director Is Fired

BOSTON — The Massachusetts pharmacy board’s director has been fired for ignoring a complaint that a Framingham company linked to a deadly meningitis outbreak was shipping drugs in bulk, in violation of its state license.

The Colorado pharmacy board complained about the New England Compounding Center in July, before the third of three batches of tainted steroids linked to the outbreak was shipped.

NECC was authorized only to fill prescriptions for specific patients.

State officials said director James D. Coffey forwarded the complaint to the board’s attorney, Susan Manning, who also failed to act. Coffey was been fired Tuesday. Manning is on administrative leave.

A state health and human services spokesman said neither Manning nor Coffey notified the state Department of Public Health leadership about the complaint.

DPH’s interim director, Lauren Smith, said it’s possible fewer people could have been sickened if the director came to the department with the complaint.

“Had the board investigators been instructed to go out and investigate then, as they were in late September, they would have likely found the conditions that were so concerning,” Smith said.

The outbreak has spread to 19 states and killed 31 people.

With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom

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