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In this Friday, Dec. 19, 2014, file photo the former supervisory pharmacist for the New England Compounding Center, Glenn Chin, left, leaves the federal courthouse in Boston with his attorney Stephen Weymouth after a hearing to announce conditions of his bail and release. Photo: Elise Amendola, AP File

A supervisory pharmacist who oversaw shoddy work that led to a meningitis outbreak that killed dozens and sickened hundreds across the nation is on trial this week for murder.

Glenn Chin, who worked at the now-closed New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass., faces multiple charges in connection with the fungal contamination that led to the deadly 2012 outbreak.

The second-degree murder accusations focus on Chin’s role in the deaths of 25 people in Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Chin faces a potential sentence of life in prison, if convicted on all counts.

The official death toll of the outbreak was 64, as reported by the CDC in 2013. But federal investigators later alleged the overall count is 76.

The Chin trial begins months after the owner of the laboratory was convicted and sentenced to federal prison. Barry Cadden was found guilty in March on counts of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud, and a count of introduction of misbranded drugs into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud and mislead. But he was found not guilty of second-degree murder.

Claiming Cadden was responsible for “the largest public health crisis ever caused by a pharmaceutical product,” authorities sought a sentence of 35 years in prison. But Cadden was sentenced in June to nine years in federal prison.

A major part of Cadden’s defense strategy was to blame Chin for the laboratory and business practices that caused the outbreak. Chin’s attorneys have indicated they intend to argue Cadden was in charge, and primarily responsible.

However, Chin’s role was safety oversight on the product leaving the laboratory, prosecutors have alleged.

The NECC manufactured shipments of preservative-free injectable methylprednisolone acetate, or MPA, a steroid used to treat arthritis, and disorders of the blood and immune system, among other indications.

But in 2012, the doses caused the fungal infections: a total of 753 patients in the United States were sickened to the tainted doses.

According to court documents, Cadden purposely continued shipments of the contaminated MPA to customers. Cadden also authorized shipping drugs whose sterility hadn’t been tested – and never notified customers who had received shipments of non-sterile batches, according to prosecutors. Some drugs were made with expired ingredients, and others were produced by an unlicensed technician, authorities said. Cadden and the company also attempted to dodge FDA oversight, even going so far as dispense drugs in bulk under fake prescriptions using celebrity names “Michael Jackson” and “Diana Ross,” among others.

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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