Cadden is accused of having caused the deaths of dozens of people, for which he faces second-degree murder charges. Cadden used to be the co-owner and chief pharmacist at the New England Compounding Center, until around 2012, when he and his colleagues were implicated in a deadly meningitis outbreak that sickened hundreds of people in 20 states.
This is a "classic" defective drugs story, with a twist.
In probably the majority of defective drug cases, a large pharmaceutical company manufactures and puts a drug on the market. Only later do we understand the drug's danger, when patients begin to get sick or even lose their lives. In some cases, the drug is inherently unsafe. In others, we come to find that patients were not meant to use the drug as the pharmaceutical company marketed it.
What caused this meningitis outbreak?
This story, however, involves the smaller compounding pharmacies, which unfortunately are not as regulated, as compared to the larger pharmaceutical firms (since the incident that has begun to change).
The New England Compounding Center, or NECC, is (was) one of those smaller compounding pharmacies. NECC is not a household name, nor will it become so, as it's now closed for business after having sent tainted vials of medication to 20 states, sickening more than 700 people, and killing 64.
The problem was fungal meningitis. A subsequent investigation revealed that NECC used expired ingredients and operated in unsanitary conditions. Thus, we have the trial of Barry Cadden, who faces the possibility of life in prison if convicted.
Many others at NECC have also been charged with crimes, and either face trial, sentencing, or have already pleaded guilty.