By Walter F. Roche Jr.
The mother of a 3-year-old who died after being treated with drugs from a defunct compounding firm is charging that a proposed bankruptcy plan bars her from pursuing a claim against that now bankrupt firm.
In a petition filed this week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Massachusetts, Katrina Eldreth states that the bankruptcy plan for the New England Compounding Center will bar her claim that a contaminated drug from NECC killed 3-year-old Ari Gomez.
Along with her claim is an affidavit from a U.S. Defense Department contagious disease expert who concluded that it was likely that contaminated cardioplegia from NECC led to the boy's death following open heart surgery.
Gomez died on Sept. 24, 2012 after undergoing heart surgery at the Sunrise Medical Center in Las Vegas, Nev. His death came just one month after he underwent two surgeries at the center. During the surgery, records show, cardioplegia from NECC was administered to temporarily stop his heart from beating.
According to the petition, the bankruptcy plan would bar Eldreth's claim because the lot of cardioplegia he was injected with was never tested by federal officials. In fact only one lot of cardioplegia was tested and it was found to be contaminated, the petition states.
In addition Gomez had died and was buried before the outbreak became public. Thus there was no autopsy.
The petition states that there was no way for Eldreth to provide the proof required under the bankruptcy plan.
The petition notes that the recent indictment of NECC owners and employees includes charges that an unlicensed pharmacy technician, Scott Connolly, was overseeing the compounding of cardioplegia. Connolly was one of 14 indicted. He has entered a not guilty plea as have the other 13.
NECC has been blamed for a nationwide outbreak of fungal meningitis that sickened 778 patients, killing 76 of them. Those patients were stricken with fungal meningitis from tainted menthylprednisolone acetate that had been injected into their spines or joints.
The declaration filed with the Eldreth petition was signed by DOD infectious disease expert David L. Blazes who concluded that it was more likely than not that tainted cardioplegia caused Gomez death.