This is perhaps one of the most striking examples of "malpractice," if you can call it that, perpetrated by a pharmacist. Indeed, the authorities took it a step further by calling it racketeering. The two terms generally aren't related, but in this case, supervisory pharmacist Glenn Chin is alleged to have caused the deaths of 25 people in seven states because of his "wanton and willful disregard," as Denise Lavoie reports for the Associated Press on Wednesday.
The drugs themselves (injections) weren't inherently dangerous, but are alleged to have been made that way because of the conditions in which they were made and handled. Chin, along with a business co-founder, was charged with racketeering (a charge more often associated with organized crime), and 14 others were charged with crimes such as the interstate sale of adulterated drugs.
Why Did This Happen? The Profit Motive
"Production and profit," says U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, "were prioritized over safety." According to Lavoie's AP report, there was mold and bacteria in the drug manufacturer's now-closed facility, expired ingredients, improper sterilization, and false log entries showing clean rooms that weren't clean. Yet they still sent the drugs to hospitals and clinics for use in patients, despite the risk.
Hundreds of people were sickened, others killed, in the meningitis outbreak of 2012. Now, as we head into 2015, the men alleged to be responsible will face criminal prosecution, just as they faced civil lawsuits from the patients who survived and the families of those patients who lost their lives.