Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz of the District of Massachusetts today announced a new coordination of their respective and continuing independent state and federal criminal investigations of New England Compounding Center (NECC), a now-defunct Massachusetts company, which distributed tainted injections of a steroid, known as methylprednisolone acetate, to clinics throughout the country.
"The victims and families affected by this fungal meningitis tragedy deserve answers, and this agreement with United States Attorney Ortiz will allow us to coordinate with federal officials and maximize the resources dedicated to this investigation," says Schuette. "This force-multiplier will boost our parallel and independent investigations, helping both our offices secure justice for victims and their families."
"We are grateful for the cooperation of the Michigan Attorney General's Office in this important investigation," says Ortiz. "Through this coordinated approach, we will strengthen our respective independent federal and state criminal investigations and achieve justice for the 751 individuals and their families who have suffered so much."
The tainted methylprednisolone acetate injections compounded at NECC have caused harm to 751 individuals, including 64 deaths, in twenty different states according to official tallies recorded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In the state of Michigan, NECC distributed tainted methylprednisolone acetate injections to clinics in four Michigan counties: Genesee, Livingston, Macomb, and Grand Traverse. The CDC and the Michigan Department of Community Health have reported that Michigan leads the nation with 264 individuals diagnosed with a form of fungal meningitis or infection after receiving methylprednisolone acetate injections compounded at NECC. Of those 264 individuals, the CDC has reported that 19 have died, which is the most from any state.
In April 2013, the Michigan Court of Appeals granted Schuette's historic request to empanel a multi-county grand jury to investigate the fungal meningitis tragedy. This was the first multi-county grand jury request to be made by an Attorney General and granted by the Court in the state's history.
The multi-county grand jury's six month term will expire, but Schuette may petition the presiding judge to reconvene it in the future, if necessary. Evidence already uncovered by the grand jury may be used in ongoing investigations, and grand jurors remain sworn to secrecy.
With respect to the state criminal investigation, Schuette notes, "Our state grand jury has been very productive. For now, our efforts will continue through a coordinated approach with federal officials."
Victims affected by tainted steroid shots distributed by New England Compounding Center can learn more about their federal crime victim rights here: http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/victim_assistance. Victims can learn about crime victim rights under Michigan law on Schuette's website at: http://1.usa.gov/I8wwLN.