WBUR

Interim Mass. Official Testifies At U.S. Senate On Outbreak

BOSTON — A U.S. Senate hearing on the nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak linked to a Framingham compounding pharmacy is focusing on the time it took between the first warnings about the New England Compounding Center and action taken against the firm.

Last year, the Colorado state Board of Pharmacy reported NECC was distributing unlicensed drugs, breaking Massachusetts laws.

Dr. Lauren Smith, Massachusetts’ interim public health commissioner, said action should have been taken.

“The board certainly knew of NECC at that time and it had issues,” she said. “It should have been a red flag and it wasn’t.”

Smith added that while most of the blame for the outbreak falls on NECC, regulators allowed problems to go too far.

“Poor judgment, missed opportunities and lack of action have allowed NECC to continue on this troubling path,” she said. “We acknowledge some of these lapses were preventable, but clearly all were unacceptable.”

Tainted steroids made by NECC have killed 32 people and sickened hundreds of others across the country.

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