Quantcast

Michigan, feds to coordinate meningitis probes

By Ed White

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Nov. 25 2013 11:05 a.m. MST

Boston U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette address the media during a news conference in Detroit, Monday, Nov. 25, 2013. Authorities in Michigan and Massachusetts said Monday that they will coordinate their separate state and federal criminal investigations of a company that sold steroid injection materials linked to a fungal meningitis outbreak that sickened hundreds of people in 20 states. A federal grand jury in Boston has been investigating the New England Compounding Center for more than a year and a multi-county grand jury has been investigating in Michigan.

Carlos Osorio, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

DETROIT — 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.

Online:

Michigan meningitis information: http://1.usa.gov/Wom9rn

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention meningitis outbreak map: http://1.usa.gov/Qsw1eU

Follow Ed White at http://twitter.com/edwhiteap

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS