Meningitis victims get $127 million in settlement

Meningitis victims get $127 million in settlement
Dr. David Vandenberg shows a digital slide on his computer screen of a patients MRI showing the infected area of the spine, due to a contaminated steroid infection, at the Fungal Outbreak Clinic.

UNITED STATES - Owners and insurers of a now-bankrupt Massachusetts pharmacy linked to a deadly meningitis outbreak have agreed to pay more than US$100 million (S$127 million) to compensate victims, families of victims and creditors.

The preliminary settlement announced on Monday, which requires court approval, would resolve many claims arising from tainted steroid injections linked to New England Compounding Pharmacy Inc of Framingham, Massachusetts.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 64 people died and 751 were sickened in 20 US states by injections of methylprednisolone acetate, a drug typically used to ease back pain.

The outbreak occurred after NECC shipped tainted vials of the steroid to medical facilities throughout the United States.

NECC filed for bankruptcy protection December 21, 2012, two months after shutting down as the outbreak began.

Thomas Sobol, a partner at Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro representing a plaintiffs' steering committee, called the accord "a big step forward in getting justice for victims."

Kristen Johnson Parker, another Hagens Berman partner, in a phone interview said, "All victims of the NECC tragedy should be able to share in the funds."

NECC's owners, bankruptcy trustee Paul Moore and lawyers for a committee of unsecured NECC creditors also confirmed the settlement in a joint statement. The owners denied liability or wrongdoing.

Settlement funds are expected to come from the owners, insurers, tax refunds and proceeds from the sale of a related business.

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