Thursday, July 7, 2016
$40 Million May Go to Outbreak Victims
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
Up to $40 million in additional assistance could be available for the hundreds of victims of the 2012 deadly fungal meningitis outbreak.
U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop, a Michigan Republican, announced today that the U.S. Justice Department had agreed to set aside $40 million from a national crime victims' compensation fund for payments to the victims of the outbreak.
A total of 778 patients from across the country were sickened during the outbreak blamed on the New England Compounding Center, a defunct drug compounding firm in Framingham, Mass. Seventy-seven of those patients died with one death coming in March.
Bishop's district was one of the hardest hit with 15 area patients dying as a result.
"Every victims deserves an advocate. It's been nearly four long years for these victims and their families," Bishop said in an announcement of the DOJ action.
Bishop was joined by more than a dozen other members of Congress in a lobbying effort to get the funds released.
DOJ and U.S. Office of Management and Budget officials had disagreed with each other over the use of the fund for outbreak victims. Some had argued that the funds should go only to victims of violent crimes.
Bishop said that the funds would be distributed through the Massachusetts' Attorney General's office, since NECC was located in that state.
Bishop said further details on the distribution of the funds would be forthcoming.
The $40 million will be in addition to some $200 million set aside in the bankruptcy of NECC. Some payments from that fund to victims are expected to go out next month.
Fourteen former employees and owners of NECC have been indicted and await trial on charges ranging from second degree murder to racketeering and wire and mail fraud. All have entered not guilty pleas.