Scant oversight of drug maker in fatal meningitis outbreak
The rising toll - seven dead, 60 ill and thousands potentially exposed - has cast a harsh light on the loose regulations that legal experts say allowed a company to sell 17,676 vials of an unsafe drug to pain clinics in 23 states. Federal health officials said Friday that all patients injected with the steroid drug made by the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass., which had a troubled history, needed to be tracked down immediately and informed of the danger. Some doctors and clinics have taken their business to compounding pharmacies, which mix up batches of drugs on their own, often for much lower prices than major manufacturers charge - and with little of the federal oversight of drug safety and quality that is routine for the big companies.
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