Meningitis, drug lab hearings announced

BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) — Following a number of major public health scandals in Massachusetts, lawmakers are taking a hard look at major lapses in oversight at the Department of Public Health.

“There has been a failure of government that has endangered both the public health and the public safety of not only the citizens of Massachusetts, but citizens throughout the United States of America,” said Rep. David Linsky (D-Natick).

House lawmakers plan to hold three public hearings at the Garner Auditorium at the State House to review two public health debacles – Namely, a state drug lab scandal involving a chemist who has potentially compromised tens of thousands of criminal cases; and more recently, a national meningitis outbreak linked to a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy.  The hearings will be held at 10:30am on Wednesday, November 14, Wednesday, November 28 and a third to be determined at a later date.

“We’ve got many tremendous employees at the Department of Public Health.  People doing a great job. But what’s also clear is that there’s been some negligence, some malfeasance, maybe some downright maliciousness and we want to get to the bottom of this,” said Rep. Harold Naughton (D-Clinton).

Senate lawmakers will hold their own set of hearings.  The attorney general has also called on the governor to appoint an independent investigator to review policies at the state drug lab.  

“What we’ve asked the governor to do is look at other pieces of the lab including cases not handled by that chemist and the larger questions around management of the lab,” said Attorney General Martha Coakley.

To address the meningitis outbreak, the Massachusetts Board of Pharmacy passed emergency regulations Thursday to enhance oversight at compounding pharmacies.  Congressman Ed Markey also unveiled federal legislation directed at what he calls a “regulatory black hole” in governing compounding pharmacies across the nation.

Copyright 2014 WWLP TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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