DETROIT (AP) — An investigation of tainted steroids that infected hundreds of people with meningitis remains “very active,” a Massachusetts federal prosecutor said Monday while in Detroit to announce a partnership with authorities in Michigan, one of the hardest-hit states.
Carmen Ortiz, the U.S. attorney in Boston, didn’t set a deadline for the grand jury probe, saying only that investigators are working diligently in Massachusetts, where New England Compounding Center made injectable steroids.
Since tainted drugs 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 federal criminal investigation … is very active,” Ortiz told reporters, adding that it’s “very complex.”
She was in Detroit to announce a partnership with Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, who plans to share any evidence from a separate state probe.
He said the Michigan grand jury, based in Livingston County, soon will take a break 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 federal investigation.
“We have two horses pulling one wagon to provide justice to victims,” Schuette said.
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: http://1.usa.gov/Wom9rn
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention meningitis outbreak map: http://1.usa.gov/Qsw1eU
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