Monday, January 30, 2017
Widow Details Husband's Outbreak Death
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
BOSTON, Mass. The widow of a Virginia victim of the 2012 meningitis outbreak told a jury today that doctors were confused and couldn't figure why the antibiotics they were giving him weren't working. Days later he was dead after suffering four strokes.
Sharon Wingate broke down in tears several times as she described her husband's final days. He died Sept. 18, 2012, just 12 days after being injected with a fungus loaded steroid from a Massachusetts drug compounder.
Wingate said she and her husband were getting ready to take a long awaited ocean cruise when he began to experience a painful recurrence of neck and back pain. His right arm was going numb. He had gotten injections before and they had provided some relief, so they went to Insight Imaging in Roanoke where he was injected on Sept. 12
Her testimony came in the trial of Barry J. Cadden, the president and part owner of that Massachusetts drug firm, the New England Compounding Center. Cadden has been charged with second degree murder in the death of Douglas Wingate and 24 others.
NECC shipped the contaminated methylprednisolone acetate to health facilities in more than 20 states. Federal health officials say those drugs sickened 778 patients, killing 76 of them.
Sharon Wingate said the doctors treating her husband assumed he was suffering from bacterial meningitis, but a subsequent autopsy showed it was fungal meningitis, a form of the disease requiring a completely different drug regimen.
Under questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Strachan, Wingate recounted how she and her husband first met when they worked for the same company. They had two children, Amber and Austin. He doted on them.
He was in good health, she said, except for his back.
After getting the shot, she said he had some improvement, but was hit almost immediately with a piercing headache.
"Nothing could alleviate the pain," she said, adding that he also had extreme sensitivity to light.
After a trip to the emergency room and a spinal tap, doctors concluded he had meningitis, but they assumed it was the more common bacterial firm.
The antibiotics weren't working and she got a call from the hospital on a Saturday morning informing her that he had become unresponsive.
"He couldn't speak. He couldn't respond. He could squeeze my hand, that was it," she said.
In other testimony, the chief pharmacists at hospitals in Illinois and Florida told jurors how they came to purchase drugs from NECC. Both said they relied on assurances from NECC that they complied with national standards to assure the sterility and quality of their products.
Derek Carvalho, a former worker in NECC's clean room and a prosecution witness testified that at times expired and untested drugs were used by he and other workers. He also acknowledged that on more than two dozens occasions, tests showed bacteria on his gloves.
He said that another clean room worker, Scott Connelly, did not have a required license from the state and that Connelly used Cadden's license number and initials on official forms for the drugs he had processed.