By Walter F. Roche Jr.
The chief federal prosecutor in a probe of a deadly fungal meningitis outbreak has written to victims across the country assuring them that the investigation is "very active and ongoing" and a recent arrest does not signal the end of the inquiry.
U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz signed the Sept. 8 two page letter sent to the victims, including Joan Peay, a Nashville resident who has suffered two bouts of fungal meningitis.
Peay received the Ortiz letter Thursday, the same day Glenn A. Chin, 46, was arraigned in U.S. District Court in Boston on a mail fraud charge. Chin, who entered a not guilty plea and was released on bond, was a supervising pharmacist for the now shuttered New England Compounding Center, the firm blamed for the 2012 outbreak that killed 64 patients and sickened 751.
In the letter, Ortiz wrote that Chin's arrest came because federal officials learned of his plans leave the country. The suburban Boston resident was arrested at Logan International Airport as he was preparing to board a flight to China.
"The federal criminal investigation of Mr. Chin and others remains very active ongoing," Ortiz stated in the letter, adding that the arrest "does not signify the end of the investigation."
In a five-page indictment filed earlier this week, a grand jury charged that Chin not only personally compounded tainted steroids, but supervised others who he instructed to certify that the drugs were sterile and fit for injection into patients.
State and federal officials eventually concluded thousands of vials of the NECC steroids were tainted with fungus due to unsanitary conditions at its Massachusetts facility, where Chin was in charge of sterility.
The letter also notified victims that they can monitor the progress in the case on-line or by phone by utilizing a unique sign-on and password to a victims service center.
Peay said she was pleased to learn that the investigation is continuing and that she already had signed up to get continuing updates..
Peay was administered doses of the steroid, methylprednisolone acetate, at the Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center. She has been hospitalized on multiple occasions for the fungal meningitis she subsequently contracted.