Thursday, February 2, 2017

Witnesses: Cadden Gave No Hint of Imminent Outbreak

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

BOSTON, Mass. - Officials from two health care facilities testified today that they spoke with Barry J. Cadden as a national fungal meningitis outbreak was unfolding but he gave no hint of an impending crisis.
A Maryland physician, who already had lost one patient, said Cadden assured her "there was nothing to worry about" despite the fact that a recall of some NECC drugs already had been initiated.
Cadden, the one time president and owner of the New England Compounding Center, is on trial for racketeering and 25 counts of second degree murder. His trial in U.S. District Court is ending its third week.
Dr. Ritu Bhambhani, who runs the Box Hill clinic in Abingdon, Md. testified that Cadden told her that another doctor had stated that he saw particulate matter in a vial of NECC's methylprednisolone acetate.
"Oh it's nothing to be concerned about," Bhambhani said Cadden told her. She said he assured her there was no cause for concern and that the recall was initiated just to be extra cautious.
Cadden is charged in the deaths of three Box Hill patients, Bahman Kashi, Brenda Rozek and Edna Young. A fourth Box Hill patient died, but is not named in the indictment.
Marcy Grow-Dorman, a manager of the OSMC clinic in Elkhart, Ind. said she had two telephone conversations with Cadden in late September after two clinic doctors reported observing particulates in vials of steroids from NECC.
She said Cadden told her he was not aware of any problem and that he would get back to her. She said she called him back the same day, Sept. 24, 2012, to offer to send him the two suspect vials.
She said she never heard back from him.
Asked by prosecutors if Cadden said anything about sicknesses in other states or offered any other information, Grow-Dorman said, "No, he did not."
She said some 468 patients had been injected with NECC steroids from the suspect lots. She said 58 were sickened and nine died.
She said that the clinic "lost valuable time" in contacting patients due to the lack of information.
"Had we known (sooner) that would have been extremely helpful," she said. "We lost time, valuable time."
She also said she thought that Cadden knew something about the impending outbreak when she called him but he didn't tell her.
U.S. District Judge Richard G. Stearns later told the jury that Grow-Dorman's comments about the effect of delays in getting patients care was "probably beyond the expertise of the witness."
Stearns also gave jurors a summary of the charges in the case after  some jurors expressed confusion over exactly what Cadden has been charged with.
Cadden has been charged in the deaths of two OSMC patients, Pauline Burema and Kathy Dillon.
Prosecutors in earlier court sessions have presented evidence that NECC in the same late September time period asked an outside testing firm to conduct fungal testing on some of its products.
Also testifying was Kiumarce Kashi, whose father was a Box Hill patient and died. Kashi, who is a physician himself, said his father had chronic back problems, and decided to get a spinal injection while visiting with him in Maryland.
"He did have some relief," Kashi said, adding that his father then returned to his home in Sacramento, Calif. He was soon hospitalized and by the time he arrived his father had suffered a stroke and was in the intensive care unit.
"In this day and age, it is hard to imagine how this could happen," Kashi said in a session with reporters following the hearing.
Kashi is one of eight victims or their survivors who have filed civil suits against Box Hill.

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