Grand Jury Sought to Probe Meningtitis Outbreak

Tuesday, 26 Mar 2013 03:34 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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A grand jury in Michigan may probe the deadly outbreak of meningitis that jolted the nation last year and took its worst toll in the Great Lakes State.

Nationally, 770 people have been infected in 20 states, with 51 deaths reported — allegedly from tainted steroids distributed by the New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts.

But Michigan was hit the worst, recording 259 cases of meningitis and 14 deaths.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said he hopes to empanel a grand jury to investigate whether criminal charges should be lodged against the company, which distributed the steroid to medical facilities in four Michigan counties.

He has filed a request to with the Michigan Court of Appeals to form the jury.

A criminal investigation in Michigan would be the first state-level probe of its kind. Federal officials have opened a criminal probe into the company and its owner.

“Our state has been experiencing an awful human tragedy that is killing our neighbors and causing unrelenting pain,” Schuette told the Detroit Free Press. “These statistics are brutal, but they’re not just numbers, they’re Michiganians.’’

Possible criminal charges could include selling an adulterated drug and conspiracy, felonies that could bring 5- to 15-year prison sentences.

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