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Meningitis Roundup: AG Involved; Assigning Blame; First Suit Filed; Brown Donations

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The fungus Aspergillus niger shows up as a black mold on decaying vegetation and food. (CDC via NPR)
The fungus Aspergillus niger shows up as a black mold on decaying vegetation and food. (CDC via NPR)

This morning's reporting on the national meningitis outbreak from the WBUR news team:

• The state attorney general's office says it is cooperating with state and federal investigations into the Framingham company tied to a deadly national outbreak of meningitis — and that criminal and civil charges could be brought once it determines how the pharmacy distributed the drugs suspected to be tainted.

• Meantime, regulators and the Framingham company linked to the outbreak are deflecting responsibility. WBUR's Martha Bebinger has the story:

WBUR's Martha Bebinger
WBUR's Martha Bebinger

New England compounding center was licensed to fill individual prescriptions but was shipping medications in bulk. Federal regulators say they didn't have the authority to crack down on a pharmacy. And Massachusetts regulator Madeline Biondolillo says the company, NECC, misled the state:

"NECC was not operating in accordance with the Massachusetts licensing regulation, however, the interstate aspect of that is something that bears looking at on a federal level."

The interstate issue brings us back to the company, where sources close to the investigation say NECC complied with Massachusetts rules, but was not prohibited from filling bulk prescription orders out of state.

• A Minnesota woman who says she was given the steroids has filed suit against the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, in what is believed to be the first lawsuit filed in the outbreak. The woman says she suffered headaches and nausea, and the future of her health is uncertain. Fourteen people have died in the outbreak, and 13,000 people who received the steroids are waiting to see if they develop symptoms.

• Senator Scott Brown says he'll return campaign donations he's received from executives at the Framingham pharmacy. Brown says the $10,000 donated will be given to the Meningitis Foundation of America.

This program aired on October 12, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

Carey Goldberg Twitter Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.