Michigan, Feds To Coordinate Meningitis Probes

Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) – A national investigation of tainted steroids that infected hundreds of people with meningitis remains “very active,” a Massachusetts federal prosecutor said Monday on a trip to Detroit to announce a partnership with authorities in Michigan – one of the hardest-hit states.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said his office plans to share any evidence with U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz in Massachusetts, where New England Compounding Center was based.

Schuette said the Michigan grand jury soon will take a pause when its six-month term expires, although it could be restarted again. He had no charges to announce, and instead vowed to cooperate with the more significant and broader investigation taking place in the East.

“The federal criminal investigation … is very active,” Ortiz told reporters, adding that it’s “very complex.”

She set no deadline for the Boston-based grand jury probe, only that authorities are working as “expeditiously as possible.”

The Associated Press sent a message seeking comment to a spokesman for attorneys representing company officials. NECC gave up its license and filed for bankruptcy protection after it was flooded with hundreds of lawsuits from victims.

Since the tainted steroids were discovered last year, 751 people in 20 states, including 264 in Michigan, have developed fungal meningitis or other infections. Sixty-four people have died, including 22 Michigan residents.

The FBI recently asked anyone who received one of the tainted injections to fill out a questionnaire by Nov. 30 detailing their illnesses and saying whether they believe another medication distributed by NECC caused harm to them or their family.
Schuette declined to say whether the Michigan leg of the investigation eventually will end without charges. At least four Michigan clinics treated patients with tainted steroids obtained from NECC.

Schuette said he regularly talks to victims or their relatives, including a woman whose husband died.

“There are no anniversaries anymore for this woman and her husband,” he said.


[Michigan meningitis information]

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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