Glenn Chin, a supervisory pharmacist at a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy, will be set to go on trial this Tuesday. He’s supposedly responsible for the terrible nationwide outbreak of fungal meningitis that left many deaths and hundreds of people affected in 2012. According to an Associated Press report, Chin might be sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison if he’s found guilty.

The outbreak produced by damaged steroid injections killed 19 people and left at least 264 total cases of meningitis, just in Michigan. According to experts and Chin’s defense attorney, Chin could receive a worse sentence than Barry Cadden’s, the co-founder of the now-closed New England Compounding Center or NECC, in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Glenn Chin. Image credit:
Glenn Chin. Image credit:

Cadden first faced charges of second-degree murder at the beginning of his trial in June, but he was then sentenced to nine years in prison after he was convicted on conspiracy and fraud charges. Now, Glenn Chin could be sentenced to life in jail if he’s found guilty of all counts of second-degree murder under federal racketeering law. Other charges include conspiracy and mail fraud, the AP reported.

Glenn Chin, who was in charge of the clean rooms’ sanitary conditions where these steroid injections were made, is accused of failing to properly sterilize the batch of preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate that was sold around the country and left 778 individuals affected, including 76 deaths. Just in Michigan, these drugs used to treat pain in the lowest parts of the back reached clinics in Macomb, Livingston, Genesee, and Grand Traverse counties.

“I’m just a little concerned that the judge and the jury might be a little more harsh on Glenn Chin because he was doing the work in the clean room,” Chin’s attorney, Stephen Weymouth, said.

Meningitis is a disease that swells the brain and spinal cord membranes due to a bacterial or viral infection in the fluid that surrounds and protects them. Is also caused by “injuries, cancer, certain drugs, and other types of infections,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, there are many types of meningitis, as parasitic meningitis, amebic meningitis, viral and bacterial meningitis, non-infectious meningitis, and fungal meningitis.

Barry Cadden. Image credit: AP Photo / Stephan Savoia / Fox News
Barry Cadden. Image credit: AP Photo / Stephan Savoia / Fox News

That a person gets infected with fungus meningitis is actually pretty rare. However, the most affected people are those whose immune systems are fragile – for example, those who have HIV infection or cancer. People usually develop the disease when fungus uses the blood to spread all over the body until it reaches the spinal cord.

There is not an estimated time to treat fungal meningitis. High-dose antifungal medications are given to patients depending on how strong their immune systems are and the type of fungus that’s causing the infection.

Both founders against each other

The first trial seemed like a competition between the two accused that tried to demonstrate who was guilty of the outbreak and the many affected people.

Throughout Cadden’s trial, the co-founder’s lawyers stated that Chin was responsible because he was the only one in charge to verify that the drugs were completely adequate. However, at the same time, Chin pointed the finger back at Cadden and denied every charge he was first accused.

Chin’s lawyer will argue that his client was just a Cadden’s “puppet” back in the clean rooms and that Chin’s job was usually so stressful and challenging that “mistakes might have been made.” Additionally, Weymouth will argue that it was Cadden who called the shots and pushed the orders to line his pockets, unlike his client.

“I think the government would agree with me that the more culpable of these two parties was actually Barry Cadden,” Chin’s attorney said. His client “did whatever Cadden told him to do.”

However, the prosecutor David Schumacher believes that Chin played a huge role in the meningitis outbreak. He was the only responsible for seeing that the steroid injections were completely safe and ready to be delivered all around the country.

“Glenn Chin has quite a bit of exposure here,” said Schumacher, who was deputy chief of the health care fraud unit in the Massachusetts U.S. attorney’s office before joining Hooper, Lundy & Bookman.

An individual’s fight to stop another outbreak from happening again

One affected person was Scott Shaw’s mother, who unfortunately died because of the epidemic. Shaw doesn’t want another similar event to occur.

Shaw considers that a great punishment for the supervisory pharmacist, Glenn Chin, might actually help.

“I believe as surely as I’m talking to you right now that if something isn’t done, we will repeat this again,” the North Carolina man said. He is disposed to do anything

However, although Scott Shaw would really like to see Chin going to jail for the rest of his life, he is completely aware that it won’t take his mother back.

“We can’t bring her back,” he said. “We’re never going to regain what we lost.”

Source: ABC News