Two Former Pharmacists at New England Compounding Center Sentenced in Connection with 2012 Fungal Meningitis Outbreak
BOSTON – Two former verification pharmacists at New England Compounding Center (NECC) have been sentenced in federal court in Boston for violating the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA).
Michelle L. Thomas, 35, of Cumberland, R.I., was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns to one year of probation. Yesterday, Judge Stearns sentenced Kathy S. Chin, 47, of Canton, to two years of probation. In May 2019, Thomas and Chin were convicted by a federal jury of two and four felony counts, respectively, of dispensing drugs without valid prescriptions with the intent to defraud or mislead government regulators and customers.
NECC, a licensed pharmacy, routinely dispensed drugs in bulk without valid prescriptions. Chin and Thomas served as verification pharmacists, signing off on drug orders prior to shipment to customers. Chin was convicted of approving shipments of drugs for patients with names such as Flash Gordon, Long John, Tony Tiger, Chester Cheeto, Dale Earnhardt, Tom Brokaw, Jon Stewart, Jay Leno, David Letterman, and Dick Van Dyke, among others. Thomas was convicted of approving shipments of drugs for patients with names such as L.L. Bean, Filet O’Fish, Rug Doctor, Squeaky Wheel, Dingo Boney, Coco Puff, and Harry Potter, among others.
Chin and Thomas dispensed these and other bulk orders of prescription drugs with the intent to defraud and mislead state and federal government regulators. Specifically, NECC repeatedly took steps to shield its operations from regulatory oversight by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by claiming to be a pharmacy dispensing drugs pursuant to valid, patient-specific prescriptions. The jury heard evidence that the fake prescriptions, along with numerous other bulk drug orders, approved by Chin and Thomas allowed NECC to operate as an unregulated drug manufacturer.
In June 2017, Barry Cadden, the former owner and head pharmacist for NECC, was sentenced to nine years in prison and three years of supervised release after being convicted of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud, and introduction of misbranded drugs into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud and mislead. In January 2018, Glenn Chin, NECC’s former supervisory pharmacist, was sentenced to eight years in prison and two years of supervised release after being convicted of 77 counts. In total, 13 NECC defendants have been convicted of 178 charges.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen M. Hahn; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Leigh-Alistair Barzey, Special Agent in Charge of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Northeast Field Office; Sean Smith, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, Criminal Investigations Division; and Joseph W. Cronin, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Boston Division, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amanda P.M. Strachan, Chief of Lelling’s Health Care Fraud Unit, and Christopher Looney prosecuted the case.